Sotomayor defends Clarence Thomas: 'He cares deeply'

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks movingly about Justice Clarence Thomas as the annual convention of the American Constitution Society on June 16, 2022. (Video screenshot)
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks movingly about Justice Clarence Thomas as the annual convention of the American Constitution Society on June 16, 2022. (Video screenshot)

As Clarence Thomas faces scrutiny over his wife’s communications about the 2020 election and calls by some Democrats for him to resign, he’s receiving wholehearted endorsement from one of the political left’s most revered figures.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was at the annual convention of the progressive American Constitution Society on Thursday when she was asked how she – an appointee of Barack Obama – manages to get along with conservative colleagues such as Thomas.

Clarence Thomas (Official portrait)

She said she probably has disagreed with Thomas in court opinions more than with any other justice.

“Yet Justice Thomas is the one justice in the building that literally knows every employee’s name. Every one of them,” she said.

“And not only does he know their names, he remembers their family’s names and their histories,” Sotomayor continued. “He’s the first one who will go up to someone when you’re walking with him and say, ‘Is your son OK?’ ‘How’s your daughter doing in college?'”

She said Thomas was “the first one that when my stepfather died sent me flowers in Florida.”

“He is a man who cares deeply about the court as an institution, about the people who work there. But about people.”

Sotomayor characterized her ideological differences, saying Thomas has “a different vision than I do about how to help people and about their responsibilities to help themselves.”

“Justice Thomas believes that every person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” she said. “I believe that some people can’t get to their bootstraps without help.”

Sotomayor said that’s “a very different philosophy of life, but I think we share a common understanding about people and kindness towards them.”

“That’s why I can be friends with him and still continue our daily battle over our difference of opinions in cases,” she said.

Sotomayor’s remarks also come ahead of the release of a ruling in a Mississippi case that could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that determined women have a constitutional right to abortion. A draft of the majority opinion leaked in May showed the court was prepared to overturn Roe, sparking outrage on the political left.

See Sotomayor’s remarks:

‘I look forward to talking’
The House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 has asked Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, to testify regarding text messages to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and emails to Trump attorney John Eastman that pertained to the 2020 election.

Democrats suggest she had a role in organizing what they characterized as an “insurrection,” the riots that actually torpedoed the plan of some Republican lawmakers to exercise their constitutional right to raise objections to the veracity of certain state vote counts when Congress met Jan. 6, 2021, to count and certify Electoral College votes.

Ginni Thomas told the Daily Caller on Thursday she welcomes the invitation.

Ginni Thomas speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
(Gage Skidmore)

“I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them,” she said.

She told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview in March that she did not help organize the White House rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol. While she attended, she said she got cold and left early. And she argued her involvement with the event has nothing to do with her husband.

“Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles, and aspirations for America,” she said. “But we have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions too. Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work.”

‘Transparently partisan’
On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey became the latest lawmaker to call on Justice Thomas to resign.

“Over the last few years, we have become numb to bad acts by powerful actors, but Clarence and Ginni Thomas have participated in one of the worst breaches of trust ever seen in our court system,” Pascrell said in a statement. “Clarence Thomas cannot possibly be seen as a neutral actor but instead as a corrupt jurist who has poisoned the High Court.”

The lawmaker said Thomas “should have dignity and final respect for our democracy and resign.”

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota are among other Democrats who have called for Thomas’ impeachment or resignation.

In March, as WND reported, federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy said the Democratic leaders and their allies who are demanding that Thomas recuse himself or resign over his wife’s political activism “are engaged in transparently partisan politics, nothing more.”

The former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York argued that Supreme Court justices “are not even subject to disqualification over their own activities that bear directly on cases.”

Likewise, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a lifelong Democrat, said calls by Democrats to impeach Thomas “are entirely disconnected from any constitutional or logical foundation.”

All about Roe
WND reported in February on the lengthy exposé in The New Yorker titled “Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?”. The author, Jane Mayer, doesn’t hide her disdain for Ginni Thomas’s conservative political views, labeling them “far-right.” She sets out to argue that Clarence Thomas is violating fundamental rules of judicial ethics, while acknowledging that Supreme Court justices are not bound by the rules regarding conflicts of interest to which lower-court federal judges must adhere.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas in a documentary on his life, “Created Equal.” (Manifold Productions)

The associate justice made it clear in an acclaimed 2020 documentary, “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” that he believed the attacks against him during the 1991 confirmation process ultimately were about one issue: abortion.

In the film, he was asked to reflect on the confirmation process overseen by Joe Biden.

“I felt as though in my life I had been looking at the wrong people as the people who would be problematic toward me. We were told that, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be the bigot in the pickup truck; it’s gonna be the Klansmen; it’s gonna be the rural sheriff,'” Thomas says.

“But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern day liberal,” he says. “They were the ones who would discount all those things because they have one issue or because they have the power to caricature you.”

Thomas has strongly denied the allegations of Anita Hill that became the focus of the confirmation process.

“Do I have like stupid written on the back of my shirt? I mean come on. We know what this is all about,” Thomas says in “Created Equal.” “People should just tell the truth: ‘This is the wrong black guy; he has to be destroyed.’ Just say it. Then now we’re at least honest with each other.

“The idea was to get rid of me,” he says. “And then after I was there, it was to undermine me.”

The filmmakers, without naming Biden, ask Thomas to respond to the then-senator’s questions during the 1991 hearing concerning natural law.

“I have no idea what he was talking about,” Thomas says of Biden.

“I understood what he was trying to do. I didn’t really appreciate it,” he says. “‘Natural law’ was nothing more than a way of tricking me into talking about abortion.”

Thomas, with Biden voting no, was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 48.

“Most of my opponents on the judiciary committee cared about only one thing,” Thomas says in the film. “How would I rule on abortion rights. You really didn’t matter and your life didn’t matter.

“What mattered is what they wanted, and what they wanted was this particular issue.”

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