Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court might be “the most dangerous” branch of the government and warned against “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want, when we want it.”
Thomas made his remarks Thursday during a speech at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
The court’s longest-serving justice criticized some colleagues for veering into the role of legislators and politicians. Judges should not make policy or base decisions on their personal feelings or religious beliefs, he said.
“The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous,” Thomas said, NBC-6 reported. “And I think that’s problematic.
“It’s not about winning and losing at the court. It is about the entire country and the idea of this country.”
Thomas suggested the nation’s leaders should not “allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like,” The Washington Post reported.
Thomas did not directly address progressives’ calls to pack the court or President Joe Biden’s commission that is studying possible changes to the structure of the institution.
The judge quoted his late grandfather as saying, “After you’ve done that, and now what? What’s your next step?”
Thomas reflected on his childhood in the segregated South and his religious faith, and several times alluded to the political polarization in the U.S.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re really good at finding something that separates us,” Thomas told the crowd of more than 800 students and faculty gathered at the school’s performing arts center, the Post reported.
Thomas was asked whether his Catholic faith conflicted with legal questions confronted on the bench.
“There are some things that conflict very strongly with my personal opinion, my policy preferences, and those were very, very hard, particularly early on,” he said.
“I don’t do a lot of hand wringing in my opinions and tell people, ‘Oh, I’m really sad.’ That’s not the role of a judge. You do your job and you go cry alone.”
Thomas blamed the mainstream media for helping to politicize the court.
“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference,” he said. “So, if they think you are anti-abortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out.
“They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician. That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”