Clarence Thomas says he receives 'nasty' from critics and describes DC as a 'hideous place'

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a judicial conference Friday that he and his wife had been victims of “meanness” and “lies” in recent years and criticized Washington, D.C., calling it “hideous place”.

Thomas spoke at a conference attended by judges, attorneys and other court personnel during the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference. The judge was responding to a question about working in a world that seems mean-spirited when he pushed back against his critics.

“I think there are challenges with it,” Thomas said. “We're in a world and we – certainly my wife and I for the last two or three years – just the nastiness and the lies, it's just unbelievable.”

“But you have a choice,” he continued. You can't stop people from doing or saying horrible things. But you must understand and accept the fact that they cannot change you unless you allow them to. »

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Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas has come under fire over reports that he failed to disclose gifts from a major GOP donor. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Thomas, a conservative judge on the bench, recently faced criticism following accusations that he accepted luxury trips from a Republican donor without reporting them. Last year, he claimed not to have to declare travel paid for by one of his friends.

His wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, was also criticized for using her Facebook page to argue that President Biden was engaging in corruption.

Justice Thomas did not directly address the specifics of the criticism, but he said “reckless” people in Washington, D.C., would “bombard your reputation.”

“They don’t necessarily bombard you, but they bombard your reputation, your reputation or your honor,” he said. “And it's not a crime. But they can do just as much harm that way.”

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thomas was questioned by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who previously served as a law clerk for Thomas.

Topics Thomas covered during his speech included lessons from his grandfather, his friendship with former colleagues and his belief that judicial writings and discussions should be more accessible to the public.

Thomas, the longest-serving judge after being appointed to the bench in 1991, spent most of his professional life in Washington, D.C., and has expressed distaste for the District.

“I think what you're going to find is and especially in Washington, people brag about how horrible they are. It's a hideous place as far as I'm concerned,” Thomas said, adding that that's one of the reasons for which he and his wife like the camper van.

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court, Prince Warhol

Judge Thomas said “reckless” people in Washington, D.C., would “bomb your reputation.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


“You're around ordinary people who don't pride themselves on doing harmful things, just because they have the ability or because they don't agree,” he said.

A recreational vehicle used by Thomas also sparked controversy last year. In October, Senate Democrats released a report saying most of the $267,000 loan Thomas got to buy a high-end coach appears to have been forgiven.

Thomas also said he believes it is important to use language in court decisions in a way that the average person can interpret the law.

“I think everyday people are sometimes disenfranchised because of the way we talk about cases,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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