Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a lot to celebrate | National policy

By JESSICA GRESKO – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Last week, as he marked his 74th birthday, Clarence Thomas achieved two long-sought goals: expand gun rights and quashing Roe v. Wade national abortion protection.

If he was ready to take a lap of honor, Thomas did not give up. Instead, he called on his colleagues to do more, to review Supreme Court cases recognizing the rights to same-sex marriage, gay sex and contraception.

After 30 years on the pitch, Thomas’ influence has never been greater, and yet he remains a lightning rod for controversy. This includes recent questions about his wife’s role in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election results and her decision not to recuse herself from cases that involved her. Thomas said nothing in response to the criticism, and he could still serve another decade or more, scoring additional victories with a court that has become more conservative.

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“If you serve long enough, sometimes things end up going your way,” said Ohio Northern University professor Scott Gerber, author of a book on Thomas. Gerber said at this point there are people who have come through the conservative legal movement, studying conservatives like Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who have now joined Thomas on the pitch. “They learned from him and are okay with it,” he said.

Thomas is now the senior member of a group of conservative judges with the votes to control the court, not just the cases the court takes on, but the scope of its rules. It’s a change for Thomas, whose views were for years considered far from the mainstream.

“He’s always been known for not taking quite the same approach,” said Jennifer Mascott, a law professor at George Mason University who worked for Thomas as a lawyer. But in the gun case, she said: ‘Everyone joined him, his approach.

Ralph Rossum, who also wrote a book about Thomas, said the judge once compared himself to a marathon runner who has to take a long view. Now, as time has passed and more conservative judges have joined the court, Thomas is, in a sense, running “faster and faster” and “extending his stride,” Rossum said.

Thomas declined an interview request from The Associated Press.

In addition to the criticism Thomas has faced over the years for his views, he and his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas, have recently come under fire for their actions following the defeat of former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Among other things, Virginia Thomas exchanged messages with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to working to reverse President Joe Biden’s victory and urged Republican lawmakers in Arizona, where Biden won, to choose his own list of voters. House committee investigating the uprising of January 6, 2021 at the Capitol at asked him for an interview.

As for justice, there have been criticisms that because of his wife’s actions he should have recused himself from a Case involving committee access to presidential documents and lawsuit challenging election results, court challenges diverted. Democrats in Congress wrote in a letter that his participation is “extremely difficult to reconcile with federal ethical requirements”.

In recent days, in the wake of the abortion ruling, thousands of people signed a petition saying he should no longer be allowed to teach at George Washington University Law School. The university rejected this idea.

More personally, after a draft abortion ruling leaked, there were protests at his home and the homes of other Tory justices. In a post-leak appearance, Thomas contrasted liberals and conservatives in terms unusual between us and them. “You would never visit the homes of Supreme Court Justices when things were not going our way. We didn’t throw tantrums,” said Thomas.

Much of what many Americans know about Thomas stems from his murderous 1991 confirmation hearing, when he was accused of sexual harassment by former employee Anita Hill – charges he denied. He wrote a bestselling book in 2007, but for years, partly because he chose not to ask questions during court pleadings and in part because he describes himself as an introvert – Thomas spoke widely through his opinions. It was not uncommon that, because his opinions were so conservative compared to the rest of the court, he wrote opinions that spoke only for themselves.

This has changed. The court has become more conservative in recent years under the Trump administration, particularly after the liberal judge’s death. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and its replacement in 2020 by the Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The Conservatives now have a majority of six justices and can lose the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts, who is sometimes less willing to make sweeping rulings, and still has a majority.

Thomas has also become more vocal in general over the past two years. When the court started hearing arguments over the phone due to the pandemic and changed the format of the arguments so that the judges ask questions one by one, Thomas joined in. He continued to ask questions when the judges returned to their courtroom last fallhis colleagues relying on him for the first questions.

Thomas’ influence was felt in other ways as well. Many men and women Thomas was framed as a jurist held political positions in the Trump administration. Including John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who helped Trump overturn the 2020 election results. Ten other former clerks are now federal judges appointed for life. Their ranks include Kathryn Kimball Mizellethe Florida federal judge who in April overturned the nationwide mask mandate on planes and public transit.

Thomas is 74 years old. Justice Stephen Breyer retires this year, just before his 84th birthday. Ginsburg served until his death at age 87. In 2028, Thomas would surpass Judge William O. Douglas as the longest-serving judge ever.

Gerber, the Ohio professor, said Thomas always said becoming a judge was a job for life.

Says Gerber: “It’s like queen elizabeth. She’s been in power for 70 years and she’s going to stay until she’s executed in a box. This is also his point of view.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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