The nation’s highest court’s future is in doubt, says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
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Thomas warned against the leftist cultural attack during an appearance in Utah sponsored by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation. He noted that future generations will suffer if the Supreme Court is weakened.
“My fear isn’t for me. But it is for your kids and your grandkids and the next generation. What are we going to leave them? Are we leaving them a mess or are we leaving them a country? Are we leaving them chaos or are we going to leave them a court?” Thomas warned.
Throughout his speech, Thomas ripped into liberals who push to rig the court’s system to produce specific political results, arguing the idea is harmful even if it never becomes a reality.
“You can cavalierly talk about packing or stacking the court. You can cavalierly talk about doing this or doing that. At some point, the institution is going to be compromised,” he predicted.
If the court is designed to be a rubber stamp, then it is “no court at all. That’s no rule of law at all. That’s just willfulness. I don’t see how that is conducive to having a free and civil society.”
“You can’t keep taking chips out of your institutions and not expect it to, at some point, be compromised. At some point, it can’t keep withstanding the efforts to undermine,” he continued.
“Let’s be honest,” he said about the effort to pack the court to make it permanently lean to the left. “This is really about the results they want. They haven’t been able to make the institutions do what they want, to give them what they want.”
“By doing this, you continue to chip away at the respect of the institutions that the next generation is going to need if they’re going to have civil society.”
“I’m afraid, particularly in this world of cancel culture attack, I don’t know where you’re going to learn to engage as we did when I grew up.”
“If you don’t learn at that level in high school, in grammar school, in your neighborhood, or in civic organizations, then how do you have it when you’re making decisions in government, in the legislature, or in the courts?”
Thomas observed that colleges are becoming places populated with “people who actually seem quite full of themselves. Now it’s sort of this animus develops if you disagree.”
“If you can’t do it on a university campus, where do you learn civility? Where do you learn to disagree without being disagreeable?” The Deseret News reported Thomas as saying.
“That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that there were these particular ideas that were off-limits — you get like white-only water fountains, now you get white-only ideas. The more things change the more they remain the same.”
After former President Donald Trump nominated three justices, the court has leaned more conservative. As a result, progressives have called for an expansion of the number of justices on the court, as well as during the 2020 presidential primary.
Democrats introduced a bill last year proposing the addition of four judges to the bench, and President Biden is convening a commission to study expanding the court.
Thomas also condemned the media for inaccurately portraying public figures – including himself, his wife, and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In the past year, Ginni Thomas, Justice Thomas’ wife and a longtime conservative activist, has come under fire for her political activity and for her involvement in groups that file briefs concerning cases before the Supreme Court, as well as her use of Facebook to intensify partisan attacks.
While Congress moves to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Thomas remembered his confirmation process from 1991 as humiliating and embarrassing, leading him to learn not to be excessively proud. As part of congressional hearings, Thomas was grilled over a sexual harassment complaint made by Anita Hill, a former employee, leading him to describe what happened as a “high tech lynching.”
Jackson, if confirmed, would become the first black woman to serve on the court and the second black justice on the current court.
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Having grown up during segregation, Thomas says one of his highest values was civility. During his school years, he learned to respect institutions and disagree civilly with those who disagreed with him.
He said based on conversations he’s had with students at his university lectures over the past few years, colleges don’t offer a welcoming environment for productive debate, especially for those who support traditional families or are opposed to abortion.
In his remarks, Thomas did not mention Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that expanded abortion rights nationwide. This year, the court will rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case to determine whether Mississippi can ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In parallel to the court’s deliberations, legislators in Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky are introducing legislation in hopes that the court will overturn Roe and establish new precedents.