Kathy Ambush is widely known as the former wife of Clarence Thomas, the controversial conservative Supreme Court Justice. Their high-profile marriage and divorce in the 1980s sparked significant media attention. However, while her ex-husband has remained in the public eye, Kathy Ambush has led a much more private life in the decades since their split. This article will explore Ambush’s background, her relationship and marriage to Clarence Thomas, their divorce, and what she has been up to in the years afterwards.
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Background on Kathy Ambush
Kathy Grace Ambush was born in 1950 in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating high school, she attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she studied economics and sociology.
In 1969, while still in college, Ambush met law student Clarence Thomas. Thomas was attending Holy Cross College in Massachusetts at the time. The two connected right away and began dating. Ambush eventually followed Thomas to Yale Law School and moved to New Haven to be with him as he completed his law degree.
Ambush and Thomas’s relationship progressed quickly. In 1971, when Thomas was 23 and Ambush was 21, they got married in Savannah, Georgia. Ambush decided not to complete her own degree as she took on a supporting role in Thomas’s early legal career.
Marriage to Clarence Thomas
For much of the 1970s, as Clarence Thomas was working as a lawyer and transitioning into government roles, Kathy Ambush worked as a labor law assistant. She provided support to Thomas as he took positions with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Education.
In 1981, Clarence Thomas became the Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office for Civil Rights. Only a year later, he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan for the role of Chairman of the EEOC. As Thomas’s political profile rose, Ambush took on public duties like giving tours of their home to magazine reporters.
However, away from the spotlight, their relationship was deteriorating. Thomas spent extensive time traveling for work while Ambush cared for their young son at home. By 1981, the couple had grown apart and decided to separate. Their divorce was finalized in 1984.
Divorce from Clarence Thomas
The split between Clarence Thomas and Kathy Ambush was widely covered in the media, likely due to Thomas’s growing political prominence. Coverage focused heavily on Ambush’s role in the lead-up to the divorce.
In news reports at the time, friends indicated that Ambush had initially struggled to deal with Thomas’s long work hours and frequent travel. She felt he was neglecting his family obligations.
However, Ambush did not speak publicly about her feelings or the reasons for the split. Thomas stated simply that they had grown apart as he focused heavily on career ambitions.
The divorce proceedings were largely amicable. Ambush was granted physical custody of their son, Jamal Adeen Thomas, who was around 13 years old at the time. She also received a sizable divorce settlement, which included sustenance alimony, child support, and proceeds from the sale of their joint home.
Life after the divorce
Following the divorce, Kathy Ambush slipped back into private life in Virginia. She has shared very little publicly about her career or interests.
In 1986, news surfaced that Ambush had remarried. She wed a man named Douglas Allen Smith in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Ambush and Smith have now been married for over 35 years and reside in the Alexandria area. Very little is known about Smith or what Ambush has been up to since remarrying.
Ambush’s son, Jamal Thomas, has also avoided extensive media exposure as an adult. He eventually graduated from the University of Virginia Law School, mirroring the path of his father.
Clarence Thomas’s later career
While Kathy Ambush has shunned the spotlight, her ex-husband Clarence Thomas has remained very much in the public eye since their divorce.
Thomas became a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990 after contentious confirmation hearings involving Anita Hill. Just a year later, he was nominated for the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush.
Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for over 30 years. Throughout his tenure, he has consistently expressed conservative viewpoints on cases related to issues like gun rights, campaign finance, voting rights, and Affirmative Action.
In 1991, Thomas married Virginia Lamp, who worked as a congressional aide. She has been by his side as he continues to serve on the nation’s highest court.
The marriage between Kathy Ambush and Clarence Thomas gained immense national attention due to Thomas’s burgeoning Supreme Court aspirations in the early 1980s. Their divorce was wrapped up in coverage of Thomas’s vaulting legal career.
However, following the split, Ambush quickly faded back into private life, while her ex-husband exploded onto the national stage as a Supreme Court Justice. She has guarded her privacy in the decades since, while Thomas has stirred controversy through his staunch conservative positions on the Court.
Ambush’s desire for privacy means mystery still surrounds many aspects of her current personal life. However, the intense public scrutiny she experienced during her marriage to Thomas may explain her choice to retreat from the spotlight following their bitter divorce.