Clarence Thomas blames Americans for Supreme Court's erosions of rights: "You protect your liberty"

"They're interested in what they want rather than what is right as a country," Thomas said in a new book

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published June 28, 2022 11:15AM (EDT)

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said that Americans are "more interested in their iPhones than their Constitution," according to a recently released book. 

"I think we as citizens have lost interest and that's been my disappointment," Thomas said in an interview. "That certainly was something that bothered Justice Scalia, that people tend to be more interested in their iPhones than their Constitution. They're interested in what they want rather than what is right as a country."

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The justice's remarks were featured in "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words," a book written by Michael Pack and Mark Paoletta, who interviewed Thomas for more than 30 hours between November 2017 and March 2018. In the book, Thomas argued that America's alleged lack of interest in the Constitution might lead to a loss of personal liberty. 

"You protect your liberty. It's your country. [The Supreme Court is] one part of the effort, and it is the obligation of the citizens to at least know what their liberties are and to be informed," he said. 

"I think we are allowing ourselves to be ruled when we turn all that over to someone else and we're saying, 'Rule me.' Does it mean we get to make all the decisions? No," Thomas continued. "We have a system for doing that, but a part of that is our role in it, and our informed role in it, not what is said on TV, not what is said by some half-informed person."

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In recent months, Thomas has come under public scrutiny for his rulings on gun rights, abortion, and the seperation of church and state. Last week, ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established America's constitutional right to abortion. In his concurring opinion, the conservative judge suggested that the court might also throw out the legal precedents for contraception, same-sex relations, and same-sex marriage. 

Thomas has also come under fire over the activities of his wife, Ginni Thomas, a right-wing activist who played a key role in attempting to overthrow the 2020 election. During the months leading up to the Capitol riot, Ginni Thomas repeatedly encouraged Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's chief of staff, to continue challenging President Biden's win. Critics of Thomases have argued that their relationship poses a conflict of interest for Clarence Thomas' jurisprudence, and numerous House Democrats have already called on Thomas to resign from the court.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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