There are limitations to what a sitting Supreme Court justice can get away with saying without creating conflicts that could lead to recusals, and Justice Clarence Thomas utilized more than 30 years of experience Friday to take potshots at the abysmal state of corporate media.
Thomas was a guest at the Old Parkland Conference in Dallas, TX where, during an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institute, he offered some of his insight on current events. As former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo led the questioning, Thomas provided some of his genuine feelings about attacks he receives from the media.
“One of the things I say in response to the media is when they talk about, especially early on, about the way I did my job, I said, ‘I will absolutely leave the court when I do my job as poorly as you do yours – and that was meant as a compliment, really,” he stated candidly to raucous laughter from the attendees. Thomas then burst into a fit of his own boisterous amusement before adding, “It really is good to be me.”
The justice has frequently been the target of smears from the left for his personal opinions and the opinions of his wife, with some going as far as to label him “the most corrupt justice in American history.”
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As such, he’s had considerable practice in defending both himself and the institution of the Supreme Court. At a speech at the University of Notre Dame in September he stated, “I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. 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 his remarks in Texas, Thomas returned to the import of trust in institutions as he touched on the leaked opinion of his peer Justice Samuel Alito. “When you lose that trust,” he said, “especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It’s like kind of an infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it.”
Of the leak itself, he expressed, “I do think that what happened at the court is tremendously bad…I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them and then I wonder when they’re gone or they are destabilized what we will have as a country, and I don’t think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them.”
These statements are in stark contrast to incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson who shied away from direct comments and offered little that resembled an actual opinion on the leak and the protests that followed. “Everybody who is familiar with the court and the way in which it works was shocked by that,” she said associating herself with a view that she did not claim to be her own. “Such a departure from the normal order.”
She then claimed to not “have any comment” on the protests at the conservative justices’ homes which, after Thomas’ remarks, certainly makes her appear to be in favor of the activist pressures being applied.
“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way,” Thomas declared. “We didn’t throw temper tantrums. I think it is incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not repay tit for tat.”
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