Sonia Sotomayor praised fellow Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “car[ing] deeply about the Court as an institution” amid a furor over his wife’s contact with attorney John Eastman about former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“Justice Thomas is the one justice in the building that literally knows every employee’s name, every one of them. And not only does he know their names, he remembers their families’ names and histories,” Sotomayor said Thursday of the Court’s longest serving member at the American Constitution Society’s 2022 national convention.
“That’s why I can be friends with him and still continue our daily battle over our differences of opinions in cases,” she explained, adding that Thomas “believes that every person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
You can throw up your hands, let the truck run over you, or you can get up, and with all your might, try to stop that collision. I don’t think I have a choice, and neither do you. We weren’t born to be bystanders. – Justice Sotomayor #ACS2022 pic.twitter.com/weIfbq7V1A
— American Constitution Society (@acslaw) June 16, 2022
Sotomayor, one of three Democrat-appointed justices, has been publicly critical of her conservative colleagues. She claimed in December 2021 that the Court would not “survive the stench” of partisan politics if it overturns Roe v. Wade, with several Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz predicting that one of her clerks leaked a draft ruling in a case that would overturn Roe.
Sotomayor has used similar language to praise Thomas in the past. (RELATED: Gorsuch, Sotomayor Push Back On NPR Story Claiming He Refused To Wear A Mask Despite Request)
“He knows the name of every single employee in the building,” she said in 2018 at Vanderbilt University. “I can stand here and say I just love the man as a person. He has the same value towards human beings as I have, despite our differences.”
Thomas and his wife Ginni have come under pressure from liberal activists over her interactions with Eastman, a former clerk for Clarence Thomas, and then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the 2020 election. Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar called for Clarence Thomas to be impeached after media outlets revealed Ginni Thomas’ messages with Meadows. Clarence Thomas had dissented from a Supreme Court ruling that Trump had to produce documents to the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. There is no evidence that Clarence Thomas was aware of the messages in question.
Ginni Thomas confirmed to the Daily Caller that she would be willing to speak with the Select Committee about her contact with Eastman. In response, Eastman released an email purporting to show Thomas asking him to give a speech to an activist group about election litigation efforts.
“I can categorically confirm that at no time did I discuss with Mrs. Thomas or Justice Thomas any matters pending or likely to come before the Court,” he added.