Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pushed back on the liberal media during a speech to students at the University of Notre Dame following the high court’s decision not to overturn a Texas abortion law earlier this month.
In his address, Thomas, a Reagan appointee, also defended the independence and non-partisan nature of the court, disputing the media’s frequent characterizations of it as a partisan entity.
“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference,” he said. “So if they think you are anti-abortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician.”
In a 5-4 ruling Sept. 2, the high court decided not to block the Texas law, which bans abortions after fetal heart tones are detected and allows private citizens to sue anyone aiding or abetting an abortion after that time. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed the measure into law in May after a GOP legislative majority passed it.
An Obama-appointed federal judge on Thursday rejected an emergency appeal by the Biden administration to block the law. “This case presents complex, important questions of law that merit a full opportunity for the parties to present their positions to the Court,” U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman wrote in his one-page ruling ahead of an Oct. 1 court date in which legal arguments for and against the law are scheduled to be heard.
As for Thomas, he said not every decision he makes is in line with his personal or political views but that he makes them based on his contextual reading of the Constitution, as is required by his oath.
“You do your job and you go cry alone,” he said. “The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous.
“When we begin to venture into the Legislative or Executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble,” he added.
He noted that political issues such as abortion have seeped into the process of nominating federal judges and justices.
“I think that is problematic and hence the craziness during my confirmation was one of the results of that,” he said, arguing further that “it was absolutely about abortion — a matter I had not thought deeply about at the time.”
Thomas’ views appear to mirror some of those held by his colleague and the Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Last weekend, she also pushed back on allegations by Democrats and left-wing media pundits that the high court is comprised of “partisan hacks,” while ripping the media for portraying judicial decisions in a way that “seem results-oriented.”
“Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want,” she noted. “Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”
“To say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner,” Barrett said. “I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms.”
“The media, along with hot takes on Twitter, report the results and decisions,” Barrett noted further. “That makes the decision seem results-oriented. It leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision.”
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