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Justice Clarence Thomas calls Washington a ‘hideous place’

FAIRHOPE, Alabama — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told attendees at a judicial conference Friday that he and his wife have faced “nasty” and “lies” in recent years and decried Washington, DC, as a “hideous place”.

Thomas spoke at a conference attended by judges, attorneys and other judicial staff from the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, which hears federal cases from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He made the comments while pushing back against his critics in response to a question about working in a world that seems mean-spirited.

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

“But you have choices. You can’t stop people from doing or saying horrible things. But you have to understand and accept the fact that they cannot change you unless you allow them to,” Thomas said.

Thomas faced criticism that he took luxury trips accepted by a GOP donor without reporting them. Thomas argued last year that he didn’t have to report trips paid for by one of “our dearest friends.” His wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, has been criticized for using her Facebook page to amplify Democratic President Joe Biden’s unsubstantiated allegations of corruption.

He did not directly discuss the content of the criticism, but said “reckless” people in Washington would “bombard your reputation.”

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

During his appearance, Thomas was questioned by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, one of Thomas’ former lawyers who was later appointed to the federal bench. During his hour-long appearance, the court’s most senior judge discussed a wide range of topics, including the lessons of his grandfather, his friendship with former colleagues and his belief that the writings and court discussions should be more accessible to “ordinary people.” »

Thomas, who spent most of his professional life in Washington, DC, also spoke of his dislike of the place.

“I think what you’re going to find and especially in Washington, people pride themselves on being horrible. It’s a hideous place as far as I’m concerned,” Thomas said. Thomas said it’s one of the reasons he and his wife “love to RV.”

“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 with it,” Thomas said.

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

Thomas did not address the court’s high-profile caseload.

The judge said he thought it was important to use language in court decisions so that the law was accessible to the average person.

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

Thomas wasn’t the only judge to speak Friday.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Friday that U.S. history shows that court decisions unpopular in their day can become part of the “fabric of American constitutional law.”

Kavanaugh spoke Friday at a conference attended by judges, attorneys and other court staff from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and constitutes one of the most conservative circuits.

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