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Supreme Court justice warns that America could become society where people are ‘executed with words’
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The opinions of Supreme Court justices shape our nation more than the mainstream media often gives them credit for — but one 69-year-old justice is now making even mainstream headlines for his stern warning to Americans.
In a recent speech for the 2018 Federalist Society’s National Student Symposium, Justice Clarence Thomas offered some wise but stern words for his audience: he warned the hundreds of law students present about the dangers of a society where people can be “executed with words” for speaking out against mainstream views — and expressed worries that this could occur right under our noses.
What do we stand for?
Thomas, who has held a place on the Supreme Court bench since his controversial confirmation in 1991 during President George H.W. Bush’s term, told the students that it’s important to work toward furthering the ideals that they stand for, but that it must be done in a positive manner.
“I don’t think we can have a society where we are consistently cynical or negative the way that we are,” Thomas told the crowd. “At some point, if you’re going to have a country, you got to have something to be for. What do we want the law to stand for?”
Thomas went on to say that he is currently reading a book about England’s Tudor era, a time featuring widespread government use of its power against dissenters. Thomas is worried, he told the students, that the same thing could happen in the United States — and soon.
People could be “executed with words,” Thomas said, for daring to speak out against mainstream or politically correct views.
The jurist also told his audience not to get discouraged or “bogged down” during polarizing times, but to hold to their ideals and work for them.
The quiet justice
Thomas is well known for his silence, rarely asking questions during oral arguments before the court. According to the longtime justice, it’s “unnecessary in deciding cases to ask that many questions, and I don’t think it’s helpful.”
But the associate justice doesn’t seem to mind that his silence means the media doesn’t have much to say about him.
He told CBS’s 60 Minutes that he “doesn’t think much of the press,” or its characterization of his as a “sullen, intellectual lightweight” who “sold out his race.” Thomas didn’t even think that epithet required a response.
“My job is to write opinions,” he told reporter Steve Kroft at the time. “It is not to respond to idiocy and critics who make statements that are unfounded.”
Those opinions, as the nation has seen over the last two decades, are always conservative, and often rooted in natural law. In fact, Thomas is arguably the most conservative member of Chief Justice John Roberts’ court — and as a respected fellow conservative, we ought to take his warning to heart.
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