Is Clarence Thomas Retiring? Another Open Supreme Court Seat Could Completely Change The Country
This year has been a tumultuous one for the SCOTUS — and it could become just that much more interesting. The court currently has just eight justices, as Senate Republicans have blocked the confirmation of Merrick Garland who President Obama nominated to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now there are rumors that another conservative stalwart, Clarence Thomas, is considering retirement, according to a report published in by the Washington Examiner by its "Washington secrets guy" Paul Bedard. So is it true? Is Thomas considering retiring from the highest court in the land?
Justice Thomas hasn't commented on the matter. Bedard based his allegations on "court watchers," who noted that Thomas has been "considering retirement for a while and never planned to stay until he died."
But several news sources — including the Washington Examiner itself — have posted comments reportedly from the justice's wife Virginia Thomas (known as Ginni on the social media network) that deny the allegations. Here's what she said — according to the Facebook post posted by Bedard:
For all those who are contacting me about the possibility of my husband retiring, I say — unsubscribe from those false news sources and carry on with your busy lives. IT. IS. BOGUS! Paul Bedard needs to find a phone in his life and unnamed sources are worth as much as their transparency is.
Thomas was nominated by George H.W. Bush to fill a vacancy left by Thurgood Marshall. He had an impressive resume, but his confirmation hearings were marred with controversy due to the testimony of Anita Hill, a former employee who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Thomas, who denied the allegations, was confirmed anyway, and a recent HBO TV movie covered the matter, somewhat controversially.
Since taking the bench, Thomas has been most famous for signing conservative opinions and remaining silent. During oral arguments, he almost never speaks. His most recent silent streak was 10 years. That ended in February, when he posed a question during the oral arguments of Voisine v. United States.
If Thomas were to retire — and Hillary Clinton were to win the November election — the court's balance could be tilted leftward for the next generation. She would then name two justices nearly upon taking office. Currently Republicans say the voters should have a say in the confirmation process and have refused to consider Merrick Garland's nomination to the court. If Thomas and Scalia were replaced by liberal justices, the fault line would fall 6 to 2, liberal-conservative, with Kennedy leaning conservative but often siding with the liberal justices on social matters.