U.S. Supreme Court

Critics ‘Seem Bent on Undermining’ Supreme Court, Justice Thomas Says

Justice Clarence Thomas defended his wife’s political work and criticized critics on Saturday at a Federalist Society symposium for law students.

Thomas’ speech at the event’s final banquet was closed to the media, but Politico obtained a partial recording of the speech. Thomas asserted that critics “seem bent on undermining” the Supreme Court as an institution and warned law students of the possible consequences, according to the Politico account. “You all are going to be, unfortunately, the recipients of the fallout from that—that there’s going to be a day when you need these institutions to be credible and to be fully functioning to protect your liberties,” he said.

Thomas acknowledged his wife in the audience. “My bride is with me, Virginia Thomas. And some of you may know her. But the reason I bring that—specifically bring it—up is there is a price to pay today for standing in defense of your Constitution,” he said.

“We are equally yoked, and we love being with each other because we love the same things. We believe in the same things,” he added. “So, with my wife, and with the people around me, what I see, I’m reinforced that we are focused on defending liberty. So, I admire her and I love her for that because it keeps me going.”

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas started Liberty Central, a group for “new citizen activists” in 2009, and then moved on to form a consulting business to help advocate for “liberty-loving citizens” who believe in limited government. Critics have questioned whether Virginia Thomas’ work could raise recusal issues for the justice. Some critics also have suggested Thomas should have recused himself from the Citizens United ruling striking down restrictions on corporate campaign spending because he appeared in 2008 at a gathering of major conservative donors.

Federalist Society executive Leonard Leo told Politico that Thomas’ remarks were intended to motivate law students to stand up for their values and were not an attack on his critics.

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