Clarence Thomas exposed himself with his complaints about attacks on the Supreme Court: columnist
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (Phot oof Thomas vie Shutterstock/REX)

In a column for MSNBC's Maddowblog, political analyst Steve Benen made the case that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' complaint last week about the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's draft Roe v Wade ruling said more about him than the sanctity of the court.

Reacting to the fallout from the leaked first draft ruling written by Alito, Thomas told attendees at a Dallas conference that the result of the leak would undermine the court, with the justice telling the crowd, "What happened at the court is tremendously bad. I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”

Noting that Thomas was speaking to a sympathetic crowd brought together by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution and the Manhattan Institute, Benen pointed out that Thomas adopted a "us against them" framing to make his point to his fellow conservatives.

As the NY Times reported, Thomas stated, "You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way. We didn’t throw temper tantrums. It is incumbent on us to always act appropriately, and not to repay tit for tat.”

According to Benen, "Part of the problem was Thomas’ use of words such as 'we and us,' and his willingness to publicly present himself to conservatives as a fellow ideologue. But just as notable is the degree to which the justice is wrong: A year after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, for any prominent political voice to insist the right doesn’t 'throw temper tantrums' is to suggest an alarming detachment from current events."

The analyst also noted that Thomas defended the GOP-dominated Senate's treatment of Merrick Garland who never got a hearing under then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with Benen claiming it is beyond the pale for the justice to come to the Republicans' rescue.

"It’s a problem that Thomas, an ostensibly neutral arbiter on the nation’s highest court, found it necessary to publicly defend Republicans’ tactics. That simply isn’t his job. If the justice is concerned about public respect for and confidence in the Supreme Court, rhetoric like this is exactly the sort of thing he should avoid," he wrote. "Last fall, Thomas insisted that justices aren’t 'politicians'... then why does he keep acting like one?"