There is no doubt that the court has become politicized, to its great detriment and that of the nation. But being lectured on that fact by Judge Thomas, of all people, is like listening to a plutocrat lounging by his infinity pool in a bathrobe, eating a gold-plated steak while lamenting the horrors of inequality. income extreme.
Didn’t it really occur to the judge that making partisan political speeches in partisan political environments is precisely what undermines the integrity of the Supreme Court? Perhaps being blessed with prestige and power for so long makes it easy to ignore the consequences of your words and actions. Judge Thomas is not alone on this point, of course. In 2004, Judge Antonin Scalia went duck hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney and agreed to free air travel, even as Mr Cheney had a case pending in court. In 2016, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Mr. Trump “fake” in an interview with CNN. “I can’t imagine what the country would be like – with Donald Trump as president,” she told The Times in a previous interview. The Times editorial board criticized the behavior of the judges in both cases, arguing that, as we said at the time, they should be careful what they say and do “in the interest of the justice and the reputation of the court”.
These days, Judge Thomas and his right-wing colleagues barely pretend to care about the court’s reputation; all they do is complain about public outrage at their decisions even as they boast the most politicized majority in memory. There are now two members of the court, Judge Thomas and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who have attacked Democrats and Liberals, as a group, in public places. (Small World Dept.: Judge Kavanaugh – who accused Democrats during his 2018 confirmation hearing of an “orchestrated political stunt” against him and warned they had “sown the wind” – was a member of the legal team that helped Mr. Bush win the 2000 election fight.)
Even the Senate Republicans’ outrageous engineering of the court’s current right-wing supermajority appears to have escaped Judge Thomas’ concern. At Friday’s event — again, remember, sponsored by conservative groups — he claimed Republicans had “never trashed a Supreme Court nominee.” Yet doesn’t history record that they blatantly stole a vacancy from President Barack Obama in 2016 by even refusing to grant an audition to his third nominee, Merrick Garland? On the contrary, according to Judge Thomas: Mr. Garland “didn’t get a hearing, but he wasn’t trashed”. As Tom Cruise’s hitman said in “Collateral” after shooting a man who then fell from a tall building, “I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.
The Supreme Court has always operated within and not outside of politics; like the rest of our government, it is made up of human beings. Still, the judges generally strove to stay above the fray. In the interest of protecting and promoting their institutional legitimacy, they have come together to decide some of the most contentious cases; the vote to Brown was 9-0, to Roe 7-2. Today’s right-wing justices seem to have no qualms about winning narrow victories, even though five of them were nominated by presidents who won the presidency after losing the popular vote. Perhaps their effrontery is not in spite of this but because of it. They ascended to their high office in a way that disregarded the majority of the American people, so why not rule that way too?
The Supreme Court is not there to justify the demands of the majority, but neither is it there to thumb its nose at that majority again and again, in an openly partisan way. If Justice Thomas is genuinely concerned about the erosion of faith in his own institution, the first thing he can do is look in the mirror. The next thing he can do — I repeat — is step aside and hand over the work to someone who will really work to protect the integrity of the court.