There is no doubt that the court has become politicized, to the great detriment of itself and the nation. But being subjected to a lecture on this fact by Judge Thomas, of all people, is like listening to a plutocrat lounging in his infinity pool in a bathrobe, eating a gold-plated steak while bemoaning the horrors of extreme income inequality.
Did it not really occur to the minister that, by making party-political speeches in party-political environments, he is precisely what is harming the integrity of the STF? Perhaps being coddled in 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 account, of course. In 2004, Judge Antonin Scalia went duck hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney and accepted free air travel from him, even though Cheney had a case pending before the court. In 2016, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Trump a “faker” in an interview with CNN. “I can’t imagine what the country would be like — with Donald Trump as our president,” she told the Times in a previous interview. The Times editorial board criticized the judges’ behavior in both cases, arguing that, as we said at the time, they should watch what they say and do “in the interests of justice and the reputation of the court.”
These days, Judge Thomas and his fellow rightists barely pretend to care about the court’s reputation; they are just complaining about public outrage at their decisions, even as they boast the most politicized majority in memory. There are now two members of the court, Justice Thomas and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who have attacked Democrats and Liberals, as a group, in public settings. (Small World Dept.: Justice Kavanaugh – who accused the Democrats at his 2018 confirmation hearing of an “orchestrated political coup” against him and warned that they “sown the wind” – was a member of the legal team that helped Bush prevail. in the electoral struggle of 2000.)
Even the outrageous engineering by Senate Republicans of the court’s current right-wing supermajority seems to have escaped Judge Thomas’ concern. At Friday’s event — again, mind you, sponsored by conservative groups — he claimed that Republicans “never destroyed a Supreme Court candidate.” However, doesn’t history record that they openly stole a seat from President Barack Obama in 2016 by refusing to give an audience to their third candidate, Merrick Garland? Au contraire, according to Judge Thomas: Mr. Garland “was not heard, but not destroyed.” As Tom Cruise’s contract killer in “Collateral” said after shooting a man who fell from a tall building: “I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.”
The Supreme Court has always acted in and not out of politics; like the rest of our government, it consists of human beings. Still, judges often strive to stay above the fray. In the interest of protecting and promoting their institutional legitimacy, they came together to decide some of the most contentious cases; Brown’s vote was 9-0, Roe’s was 7-2. Today’s right-wing judges seem to have no qualms about narrow victories, though five of them were nominated by presidents who won the presidency for the first time later. of losing the popular vote. Perhaps your boldness is not in spite of that fact, but because of it. They rose to their high position 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 vindicate the demands of the majority, but neither is it there to despise that majority over and over again in an overtly partisan way. If Judge 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’ll say it again – is step aside and give the job to someone who will actually work to protect the integrity of the court.