US

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Addresses Retirement Rumors

By Zachary Stieber

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addressed rumors that he’s going to retire soon, saying on June 3 that he plans on staying in his position for the foreseeable future.

Thomas was asked about the rumors during a question-and-answer session at the Supreme Court Historical Society on June 3.

“It was rumored in Washington that you were going to be retiring this June,” said David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group and chairman of the Smithsonian. “Now do you think it was your enemies putting that out or your friends putting that out because they wanted you to rest more?”

“I think people just wanted me to know what I was going to do, since I couldn’t figure it out myself,” Thomas responded. He said his wife, Gini, came downstairs recently and told him she’d gotten news alerts regarding stories about the rumors.

“She says, ‘What is it I don’t know?'” I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘You’re going to retire.’ I said, ‘Glad to know that,'” Thomas said.

“I have no idea where this stuff comes from. I think one of the things you have to get used to in this business is that people can say things about you and for you that have nothing to do with you,” he added.

“I enjoy my work,” he said at another point.

Thomas was asked about how he relaxes during the court year, answering: “I really don’t have a lot of stress. I cause stress.”

He said that he attends Mass. “I try to be faithful and do things for the right reasons.” And he reads a lot of books, and spends time with his wife, who he called “my best friend in the whole world.”

At other times, he takes road trips with his wife, he said.

Clarence Thomas is sworn in to the Supreme Court
Clarence Thomas is sworn in to the Supreme Court by Justice Byron White in Washington on Oct. 18, 1991. (AP Photo)

Third-Oldest Justice

Thomas, 70, is the third-oldest justice on the court and the oldest conservative-appointed justice on the court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, is the oldest justice on the court and Stephen Breyer, 80, is the second-oldest justice on the court.

Ginsburg has recently suffered from a slew of health problems, including cancerous growths on her lungs and broken ribs.

Thomas was nominated in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush. He started at age 43.

If a vacancy arises before the 2020 election of if President Donald Trump is reelected and a vacancy arises afterward, Trump would get his third Supreme Court nomination.

Ginsburg at Kavanaugh confirmation
(L-R) Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg attend the ceremonial swearing in of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 8, 2018. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in 2017, replacing Justice Antonin Scalia; Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in 2018, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Thomas said earlier this year that he wasn’t retiring.

Professor James Allan Gash, Pepperdine’s incoming president and moderator of an April talk, asked Thomas who he preferred to speak at his retirement party in 20 years, according to Law360. Thomas replied, “I’m not retiring.”

Even when Gash asked again about a party in 30 years, Thomas didn’t indicate any retirement thoughts.

If Thomas stays on the court for eight more years, he would become the longest-serving Supreme Court justice in U.S. history.