A relaxed and upbeat Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told the Federalist Society Thursday night that he feels “obligated” to state his sometimes unorthodox views of the law, even if they go against precedent.
“If you look like a fool, so what?” he said, adding that his respect for precedent is “not going to keep me from going to the Constitution.” His remarks won a standing ovation from the more than 1,300 attendees at the society’s annual dinner at D.C.’s Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Now in his 22nd year as a justice, Thomas said “I feel blessed every day” working as a justice. He even resisted the sentiment expressed by other justices that they need the summer recess to take a break from their colleagues. Thomas said he was in no hurry to leave the company of his fellow court members in the summer, prompting Justice Antonin Scalia to shout from the audience, “I get out of there as soon as I can.” Justice Samuel Alito Jr. also attended.
Thomas, 65, offered his observations during an on-stage conversation with Judge Diane Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. She praised Thomas as a “steady and committed originalist,” and “a friend of the Federalist Society for so long.”