Columns

Clarence Thomas: We’re ‘Destroying’ and ‘Undermining’ Our Institutions

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on March 1, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

WASHINGTON – Alluding to the steep Obamacare premium hikes set to take effect next year in certain states, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the official title of the healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, seems like a “misnomer.”

In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in the healthcare law as a tax. The Affordable Care Act requires every American to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. It was recently announced that premiums under Obamacare are increasing next year by an average of 22 percent. In Arizona, for example, premiums are going up more than 100 percent.

Thomas made the comment in response to a question about size of the Supreme Court’s caseload. The moderator said the court hears fewer cases today compared to previous years and asked Thomas if that is a positive or negative development.

“Other than the healthcare, the Affordable Care Act – which seems like kind of a misnomer considering all the things that are going on – the Affordable Care Act was one of the last pieces of major legislation, one of the few pieces of major legislation,” Thomas said last week at the Heritage Foundation’s Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture.

“So it’s not like you have a lot of that – where the real action is, where the activity legislatively occurs, is actually in the agencies and the administrative agencies, so I don’t know if there’s that much legislation that’s actually going on that requires review,” he added.

Thomas was asked if there is any hope in improving the Supreme Court confirmation process. Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who has not been considered by the Senate, was not mentioned by name.

Thomas warned that America’s “institutions” are being destroyed.

“There’s always hope, but this city is broken in some ways,” Thomas said. “We have become very comfortable with not thinking things through and debating things – that’s one of the things I love about the court. You can actually talk to people about things,” he said.

“I think we have decided rather than confront the disagreements and the differences of opinion, we will just simply annihilate the person who disagrees with me. I don’t think that’s going to work. I don’t think that’s going to work in a Republic or in a civil society. And at some point, we have got to recognize that we’re destroying our institutions and we’re undermining our institutions,” he added.

Thomas pointed out that he does not personally “attack” his colleagues in his opinions even though he disagrees with them “strongly” on certain issues.

“I think it’s important for me to leave them standing and to leave the institution standing,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s going to change in the city until we get back to sort of the notion that we argue, that we debate, that we decide things based on logic, facts, and reason as opposed to who yells the loudest or who has the best narrative or best meme or some other nonsense.”