Justice Clarence Thomas: What holds U.S. together?

religion | Nov 02, 2017 | By Martin Barillas

Justice Clarence Thomas told Laura Ingraham of Fox News Channel's "Ingraham Angle" on Wednesday that he doesn't know what holds Americans together as a country. When Ingraham asked, “Are you surprised that — how things are still so rancorous in the United States today about foundational issues? Not about — just foundational issues, the anthem and so forth?”

Justice Thomas answered, “No, I’m not surprised. I mean, what binds us? What do we all have in common anymore? I think we have to think about that. I think this is — when I was a kid, even as we had laws that held us apart, there were things that we held dear and that we all had in common. And I think we have to — we always talk about E pluribus unum. What’s our unum now? We have the pluribus. What’s the unum? And I think it’s a great country.

"I think we, for whatever reasons, have made it our — some people have decided that the Constitution isn’t worth defending, that history isn’t worth defending, that the culture and principles aren’t worth defending. And, certainly, if you are in my position, they have to be worth defending. That’s what keeps you going. That’s what energizes you. … I don’t know what it is that we have, we can say instinctively, we have as a country in common.”

Ingraham also asked him about the slight to which he was subjected by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which initially did not include him among prominent black Americans. "Not really, people who cared about me obviously did," Thomas said about the slight. "I grew up in a time when I was just exposed to a wonderful range of ideas in a segregated library... I think we're getting quite comfortable in our society limiting ideas and exposure to ideas." 

With regard to his service on the Supreme Court, he spoke of how he makes his decisions. "People have a tendency in sports to be outcome oriented," he said. "You want a particular outcome, you want to win the game. If the referees make a call consistent with the outcome you prefer, then you say the referee did a great job because that referee has somehow benefited or made possible the outcome you want. I think we have to be careful not to take outcomes that we want and backwash that into the process of decision making."

"You don't reach a decision and then force the process. You use a process and try to do it in a legitimate way. Again, something Justice Scalia and I agreed on. You don't justify the outcome; you reason to the outcome," Thomas said.

"Some people have decided that the Constitution isn't worth defending, that history isn't worth defending," said Justice Thomas in the rare interview. "Certainly if you're in my position, they have to be worth defending," Thomas said of principles and the Constitution. "That's what keeps you going, that's what energizes you... because what you're doing is so important and so critical to the things that matter."

Regarding the controversy surrounding the confirmation hearings after his nomination to the high court by Ronald Reagan, Thomas told Ingraham, "I think we are called to do certain things. When we do Wounded Warriors events or Wreaths Across America, what do you tell the widows, the families of the fallen? That you were too afraid to go through a little bit of uncertainty, a little bit of difficulty, to do a job like this? When they actually were in harm's way? What do you tell the young man who is a double amputee, because of war? That you were afraid to go through that? I don't think anyone would choose to go through unpleasantness, but if it has to be that, to do what is right, then so be it."




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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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