Thomas: I'd Have Been Happier on DC Circuit

Justice criticizes 'the nastiness and the lies' he and his wife face
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2024 5:30 PM CDT
Thomas: I'd Have Been Happier on DC Circuit
Justice Clarence Thomas in October 2022.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

With oral arguments over for this term, Supreme Court justices fanned out across the country over the weekend, providing an unusual flurry of public comments. At an appearance in Texas, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the way to increase public faith in the judicial system is through consistency, transparency, and mutual respect. In Ohio on Saturday, Justice Samuel Alito urged new college graduates to "go boldly and engage the world" while standing up for their beliefs, the Washington Post reports. Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking at a judicial conference in Alabama, went in a different direction.

Without specifically mentioning the ethical questions he's faced about his actions, Thomas ripped what he called "the nastiness and the lies" that he and his wife, Ginni, have endured. "There's certainly been a lot of negativity in our lives, my wife and I, over the last few years, but we choose not to focus on it," he said, per the New York Times. Of the nation's capital, Thomas said, "It's a hideous place." Especially in Washington, he said, people "pride themselves on being awful." The criticism and questions about Thomas' conduct involve gifts and travel paid for by billionaires, as well as his refusal to recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases though his wife worked to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

One topic might be especially frustrating to Thomas' detractors: He said he wishes he'd kept his old job on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit instead of accepting a nomination to the Supreme Court. "If I knew more about the court, I would have stayed on the DC Circuit," Thomas said, adding that he had no interest at the time in public life but felt called by God. "I really would have preferred, if I could be selfish, to be on the DC Circuit," Thomas said. "I think this court is a bit tougher of a haul." (More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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