Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – his impartiality under attack from liberals because of his attendance at a meeting of conservative donors sponsored by the Koch brothers and his wife’s tea party activism – struck a defiant tone in a Saturday night speech in Charlottesville, Va., telling a friendly audience that he and his wife “believe in the same things” and “are focused on defending liberty.”
Delivering the keynote speech at an annual symposium for conservative law students, Thomas spoke in vague, but ominous, terms about the direction of the country and urged his listeners to “redouble your efforts to learn about our country so that you’re in a position to defend it.”
He also lashed out at his critics, without naming them, asserting they “seem bent on undermining” the High Court as an institution. Such criticism, Thomas warned, could erode the ability of American citizens to fend off threats to their way of life.
“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, according to a partial recording of the speech provided to POLITICO by someone who was at the meeting.
“And that’s long after I’m gone, and that could be either a short or a long time, but you’re younger, and it’s still going to be a necessity to protect the liberties that you enjoy now in this country.”
Thomas spoke at the closing banquet for the symposium, which was sponsored by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. Several hundred law students, professors, Federalist Society staffers and guests were in the audience for his speech, which was closed to the press.
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- Jessica Levinson: Why the Other Members of the SCOTUS Should Follow Justice Clarence Thomas’ Lead (Sort of… ) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Thomas Condemns His Critics As Undermining The Supreme Court (jonathanturley.org)
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- Thomas speech prompts new criticism (politico.com)