Clarence Thomas says he receives ‘nastiness’ from critics, describes D.C. as a ‘hideous place’

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday at a judicial conference that he and his wife have been subjected to “nastiness” and “lies” over the past several years and criticized Washington, D.C., as a “hideous place.”

Thomas delivered remarks at a conference attended by judges, attorneys and other court personnel at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference. The justice was answering a question about working in a world that appears to be mean-spirited when he pushed back on his critics.

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

“But you have some choices,” he continued. You don’t get to prevent people from doing horrible things or saying horrible things. But one you have to understand and accept the fact that they can’t change you unless you permit that.”


Associate Justice Clarence Thomas has come under fire over reports he failed to disclose gifts from a major GOP donor.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Thomas, a conservative justice on the bench, has faced recent criticism over accusations that he accepted luxury trips from a GOP donor without reporting them. Last year, he maintained that he did not have to report the trips paid for by one of his friends.

His wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, has also been criticized for using her Facebook page to push claims that President Biden engaged in corruption.

Justice Thomas did not directly address the details of the criticisms, but he did say that “reckless” people in Washington, D.C., will “bomb your reputation.”

“They don’t bomb you necessarily, but they bomb your reputation or your good name or your honor,” he said. “And that’s not a crime. But they can do as much harm that way.”


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thomas was asked questions by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who previously was a law clerk for Thomas.

The topics Thomas spoke about during his remarks included the lessons of his grandfather, his friendship with former colleagues and his belief that court writings and discussions should be more accessible for the public.

Thomas, the longest serving justice after being appointed to the bench in 1991, has spent most of his working life in Washington D.C., and expressed his distaste for the district.

“I think what you are going to find and especially in Washington, people pride themselves on being awful. It is a hideous place as far as I’m concerned,” Thomas said, adding that this is one of the reasons he and his wife like RVing.

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Prince Warhol

Justice Thomas said “reckless” people in Washington, D.C., will “bomb your reputation.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“You get to be around regular people who don’t pride themselves in doing harmful things, merely because they have the capacity to do it or because they disagree,” he said.

A recreational vehicle used by Thomas also sparked controversy last year. In October, Senate Democrats issued a report saying most of the $267,000 loan Thomas obtained to purchase a high-end motorcoach appears to have been forgiven.

Thomas also said he believes it is important to use language in court rulings in a way that the average person can interpret the law.

“The regular people I think are being disenfranchised sometimes by the way that we talk about cases,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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