U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said he’s concerned efforts to politicize the court or add additional justices may erode the institution’s credibility.
Justice Thomas made the remarks at an event in Utah hosted by former Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s foundation.
Thomas, who is the most senior justice on the nine-member court, said he often worries about the long-term repercussions of trends such as “cancel culture” and a lack of civil debate.
“You can cavalierly talk about packing or stacking the court. You can cavalierly talk about doing this or doing that. At some point the institution is going to be compromised,” he told an audience of about 500 people at an upscale hotel in Salt Lake City.
“By doing this, you continue to chip away at the respect of the institutions that the next generation is going to need if they’re going to have civil society,” Thomas said.
“I’m afraid, particularly in this world of cancel culture attack, I don’t know where you’re going to learn to engage as we did when I grew up,” he said. “If you don’t learn at that level in high school, in grammar school, in your neighborhood, or in civic organizations, then how do you have it when you’re making decisions in government, in the legislature, or in the courts?”
In addition to condemning “cancel culture,” Thomas also blasted the media for cultivating inaccurate impressions about public figures, including himself, his wife and late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Rulings this year will set laws on political issues, such as abortion, guns and voting rights. Donald Trump’s 3 nominations were considered to be conservative. Progressives have in turn called to expand the number of justices on the court, including during the 2020 presidential primary.
Democrats in Congress introduced a bill last year to add four justices to the bench, and President Joe Biden has convened a commission to study expanding the court.