Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas rebuffed criticism of the high court Thursday, asserting its members are judicially independent and unbiased when issuing rulings.
However, Thomas cautioned of the potential for “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want, when we want,” according to the Washington Post.
In a speech to 800 students and educators at the University of Notre Dame, Thomas told the crowd he believed SCOTUS had become the “most dangerous” branch of government. “And I think that's problematic,” he added.
Having served the longest tenure of any justice on the bench, Thomas admitted the court has defects. He likened it to a “car with three wheels” that still keeps rolling, the Post said.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re really good at finding something that separates us,” Thomas declared to the audience.
“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 antiabortion 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,” the longest-serving justice said when asked about the court’s perceptions.
“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 antiabortion 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,” Thomas said during the hourlong event.
Other justices have strayed from tradition recently, being vocal about criticisms of the third branch of government.
Last week, Justice Amy Comey Barrett said she and her colleagues were not a “bunch of partisan hacks,” the newspaper said. The Post also pointed to Justice Stephen Breyer, who said people should not look at the bench like “junior league” politicians earlier this year.
In October, the court reconvenes for in-person arguments, the first time since moving to virtual hearings in March 2020. Court representatives said each of the nine justices is fully vaccinated.
Thomas encouraged future attorneys to focus on their written briefs and not court performance, saying a lawyer’s oral argument once prompted a unanimous reversal.
“Sometimes, just shut up and sit down,” Thomas said.
A handful of people yelled, “I still believe Anita Hill,” as the event closed, mentioning the employee who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his nomination for the bench in 1991.
In his speech at the Catholic university, Thomas blamed the "craziness" that overshadowed his confirmation hearing as the product of abortion politics.
Two weeks ago, the conservative justice joined a 5-4 majority in denying to hear a case about Texas' new restriction against abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.