Clarence Thomas criticizes judges for veering into politics

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is criticizing some in the judiciary for veering into the role of legislators and politicians

Via AP news wire
Thursday 16 September 2021 23:48
Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Thursday criticized some in the judiciary for veering into the role of legislators and politicians, saying it is not the role of judges to make policy or to base decisions on their personal feelings or religious beliefs.

Speaking at the University of Notre Dame, Thomas said judges “venturing into areas we should not have entered into” is part of why the nomination process, particularly for federal judges with lifetime appointments like himself, is so contentious.

“The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous,” Thomas said. "And I think that’s problematic.”

He did not cite any specific examples.

Thomas is the most senior justice on a court that grew more conservative under President Donald Trump who placed three justices on the court.

The speech at a Catholic university by Thomas, a Catholic, was delivered one week after he was among the majority in the Supreme Court's 5-4 vote to deny an emergency appeal of a new Texas law banning most abortions. The court suggested it was not their last word on the matter. The law is the biggest restriction of abortion rights since the court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constitutional right to abortion, and supporters of abortion rights say it's evidence Roe v. Wade could be threatened.

The Catholic church opposes abortion. Asked Thursday if there have been times when he had to resolve legal questions that conflict with his Catholic faith, Thomas said it has not been a problem for him. He said some cases were very hard, particularly early on in his career, but added “that's not the role of a judge.”

"You do your job and you go cry alone," he said.

Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by former employee Anita Hill during his own bruising 1991 confirmation hearing — charges he denied.

On Thursday, he said “the craziness” during his confirmation was the result of the politicization of the judiciary, saying “it was absolutely about abortion, a matter I had not thought deeply about at the time.”

At one point during the lecture three protesters stood and yelled “I still believe Anita Hill.” They were escorted out of the auditorium without incident; the crowd then stood and applauded.

Thursday’s lecture was a rare public speech by Thomas, who typically shies away from public speaking and is known for going years without asking questions during arguments before the Supreme Court, unlike his colleagues.

Thomas acknowledged his reticence, telling the crowd that years ago the late Justice Antonin Scalia a fellow conservative, “told me I should get out on the road and fly the flag.”

“He was more of an extrovert than I am,” Thomas said. “I’m quite content not to get out on the road.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in