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During the recent Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats and their allied protesters sought to disrupt and derail the proceedings in virtually every way imaginable.
One of the more absurd moments came when New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker insinuated that, at great risk to his own political career and Senate seat, he would release allegedly “confidential” documents hidden from the public which would show Kavanaugh was racist. Booker framed his act of “civil disobedience” as “the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” referring to the Roman gladiator that led a failed slave uprising, according to Fox News.
But as it turned out, the documents had already been cleared for public release, and they also proved the opposite of what Booker had been slanderously implying about Kavanaugh with regard to racial profiling, all of which made Booker the butt of many jokes and mocking ridicule.
Now apparently even the typically quiet and restrained Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has joined in on the act while speaking at a Federalist Society event in Washington D.C. that aired Wednesday evening on C-SPAN.
Thomas was asked about the increasingly common critiques of the “legitimacy” of the Supreme Court, which in liberal terms is a reference to the “illegitimate” conservative leanings of justices appointed by Republican presidents, as opposed to the liberal leanings of justices appointed by Democrats, which are “legitimate.”
“First, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Thomas said in response to the question about “preserving the legitimacy” of the court.
“I think what preserves all of our legitimacy is … that we do our jobs honestly, we do it with integrity, we do it with an ethical foundation, a moral foundation. We follow the law, we live up to the oaths that we take,” said Thomas
“And I think, brick by brick, we build up the structure and fabric of a society. Not one of us can tear it down or build it up by ourselves,” he continued, going on to lament the dearth of truly “honorable” people in Washington.
“Honorable — if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of ‘Spartacus,’” said Thomas, eliciting great laughter and applause from the audience, so much so that even Thomas himself couldn’t refrain from chuckling at his not-so-subtle jab at Booker.
From last week, Justice Clarence Thomas: "Honorable – if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of 'Spartacus'…"
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 12, 2018
“But if we could use the word ‘honorable’ more often, think about the difference it’ll make. Then you’ll have a legacy,” he continued. “We will have left the country in better shape morally, structurally, than we found it.”
“But as long as we’re looking at our interests, or scoring points, or looking cute, or being on TV, or the greenhouse effect or what editorials we’re getting,” said Thomas. “Especially the legal system, how do we maintain it? If you can’t debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity, how do we keep a civil society?”
Justice Thomas has garnered a reputation over the years for being rather circumspect and asking few questions during arguments before the court, and outside of his written opinions and the occasional event like this one, he generally keeps his thoughts on various matters to himself.
But the stunt pulled by Sen. Booker was so ridiculous, and in truth rather egregious toward the integrity and “legitimacy” of the confirmation process, that Thomas couldn’t help but remark on it.
The fact that he chose to reference Booker’s absurdity with humor only made this moment even better.
As for the rest of what Thomas had to say about the court and confirmation process more generally, it was, as usual, sharp as ever and directly on point, and hopefully will be considered and taken to heart by the politicians in Washington who’ve made a mockery of the system as it is currently being operated.