Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson:
This good reputation was not entirely accidental. Far more than most people realized, Thomas was himself an ambitious political networker. Indeed, he had long been planning for the day he would stand in front of the camera and accept a Supreme Court nomination. During his fiery confirmation hearings, he would angrily declare that “I did not ask to be nominated, I did not lobby for it, I did not beg for it, I did not aspire to it.” But as early as 1981 – ten years before he was appointed, when he was scarcely thirty – a number of colleagues recalled him setting his sights on Marshall’s seat.
“The first day I met him in 1981, he told me he was going to be on the Supreme Court,” said Michael Middleton, who was Thomas’s principal deputy at the Department of Education and went on to be Thomas’s associate general counsel at the EEOC. “He’d point out that Marshall wouldn’t last forever, and that he [Thomas] was the highest-ranking black lawyer in government, that he had a Yale Law degree, and he had Senator Danforth behind him. No one else, he’d say, was in as good a position.”