Clarence Thomas Offers a Warning During Speech

We must be careful not to 'destroy our institutions,' SCOTUS justice says
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 3:29 AM CDT
Clarence Thomas Offers a Warning During Speech
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The associate justice gave the Tocqueville Lecture for the Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government at the university.   (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – Expand the Supreme Court? Sounds like SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas probably doesn't think that's a good idea. In a lecture Thursday at the University of Notre Dame, the high court judge twice warned against "destroying our institutions because they don't give us what we want, when we want it." He quoted his late grandfather as wondering, "After you’ve done that, and now what? What’s your next step?" But he did not directly address the specific possibility of expanding the court.

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Democrats are upset that Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation was rushed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death just before the 2020 presidential election that then-President Trump lost (particularly after Republicans in 2016 blocked then-President Obama from appointing a justice nine months before that year's election), and President Biden organized a commission to look into structural changes on the court. But Thomas said politicians shouldn't "allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like."

Thomas, who is just the latest high court justice to speak about court proceedings after Barrett and Stephen Breyer in recent days, also said the justices aren't making rulings based on "personal preferences," the Washington Post reports. He added that the public perception to the contrary is a big problem, as it undermines faith in the court. "There are some things that conflict very strongly with my personal opinion, my policy preferences," he said, though he didn't offer specifics. He also said, per CNN, that justices who do "begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes ... are asking for trouble." Three protesters chanting "I still believe Anita Hill" were escorted out at the end of his speech. (Read more Clarence Thomas stories.)

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