Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly rather tight-lipped on the bench. But this week, he apparently needed to vent a little. In a speech delivered to the Augusta Bar Association’s Law Day Banquet earlier this week, the high court’s sole African-American judge said that critics of the court’s decisions are suffering from a “disease of illiteracy or laziness,” the Associated Press reports.
Thomas lamented that critics seem to be making uninformed decisions without reading the court’s rulings, and he’s had enough.
“You don’t just keep nagging and nagging and nagging. At some point it’s got to stop. Sometimes, too much is too much,” he said. “I think we are reaching the point where we are beginning to undermine the integrity of the law we’re going to need.”
During a two-day visit to his native state, Thomas also participated in the opening of a courthouse dedicated to the legacy of civil rights attorney John “Jack” Ruffin, Jr., who was the first African-American judge to serve on Georgia’s State Court of Appeals. The AP also reported that the reaction to Thomas’ appearance at that event was decidedly mixed. Some gave him a standing ovation, while others “remained conspicuously seated.”
“He has a tough relationship with his native state,” Black business leader James L. Kendrick told the newswire. “In most cases and by the standard of a lot of Black people, Justice Thomas voted to the opposite of what they felt was good. People feel betrayed by him.”
But according to the Augusta Chronicle, the animosity that some people may have initially felt diminished as they listened to Thomas’ remarks in which he stressed the need for judicial impartiality and following the rule of law.
“We heard in the talk today that Justice Thomas has views that I’m sure Judge Ruffin would agree with,” said Ruffin’s widow, Judith Ruffin told the publication. “But the fact that we have opposing views is not a reason for the denial of those expressions.”
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)