Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for the official group photo at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 30, 2018. (AFP / Mandel Ngan)

Chinese social media posts falsely claim video shows 'snub' by US Supreme Court associate justice in 2021

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A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple posts on Twitter and Facebook that claim it shows US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas ignoring two people who offered to shake hands with him at an event in early January 2021. The claim is false; the original video was published by UK newspaper The Guardian in October 2019. According to the report, the clip shows a pallbearer snubbing US Senator Mitch McConnell at a memorial for former senior Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings.

The video was published here on Twitter on January 5, 2021.

It was viewed more than 34,000 times before it was deleted.

Screenshot captured on January 5, 2021, of the misleading Twitter post

The simplified Chinese-language characters superimposed at the bottom of the video translate to English as: “Today, someone stretched out to shake hands with Clarence Thomas, the black justice of the US Supreme Court, but was immediately ignored by the justice, you must like this!”

The post’s caption, also written in simplified Chinese characters, translates to English as: “Today, two people stretched out to shake hands with Clarence Thomas, the black justice of the US Supreme Court, but were immediately ignored by the justice, you must like this!”

As of January 6, 2021, Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. He was appointed by George H. W. Bush and took his seat on October 23, 1991, according to his biography on the US Supreme Court website.

The video has been viewed tens of thousands of times alongside a similar claim in January 2021, including here and here on Twitter; and on Facebook here and here.

The claim is false.

A closer analysis of the video found some English text could be seen in in the clip. It reads: “...appears to snub Mitch McConnel at Elijah Cummings’ memorial”.

Mitch McConnel is the Senate Majority Leader of the United States.

Elijah Cummings was a former senior Democratic congressman who died on October 17, 2019.

A further keyword search on Google based on the English words found the original footage was published in this video on the YouTube channel for UK newspaper The Guardian. It is dated October 25, 2019.

Identical visuals to the video in the misleading posts can be seen from the YouTube video's one-second mark to its seven-second mark.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the Twitter video (L) and the YouTube video published by The Guardian (R):

Screenshot comparison between the Twitter video (L) and the YouTube video published by The Guardian (R)

The YouTube video's title reads: “Pallbearer appears to snub Mitch McConnell at Elijah Cummings' memorial".

The caption states in part: “Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was apparently snubbed by a pallbearer at the late congressman Elijah Cummings' memorial service at the Capitol on Thursday. The pallbearer walked down the line of attendees and shook hands with the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, before walking past McConnell to hug the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.”