Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Monday he has no idea why rumors about his retirement have circulated in recent months.
Speaking with private equity tycoon David Rubenstein before the Supreme Court Historical Society, Thomas seemed to say that speculation as to his possible departure is meritless. Some court-watchers have wondered if Thomas, 70, might like to retire under President Donald Trump to ensure confirmation of a like-minded successor.
“I have no idea where this stuff comes from,” Thomas said. “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.”
The justice recalled that his wife Virginia recently received a news alert to the effect that he was considering retirement.
“Wow, glad to know that,” Thomas joked. “You have to know everyday what’s on your schedule.”
WATCH: Justice Clarence Thomas addresses retirement rumors
Thomas did not explicitly deny the retirement rumors during his Monday remarks, though he has been more emphatic in other contexts. During an April interview at Pepperdine University School of Law event, Thomas disclaimed any interest in leaving the high court in the near future.
Asked elsewhere in the interview how he handles stress, Thomas said he attends Mass, reads, enjoys the companionship of his wife and his law clerks, and watches University of Nebraska sports.
“I really don’t have a lot of stress,” Thomas said. “I cause stress.”
The quip may have been in reference to a concurring opinion Thomas wrote about an Indiana abortion law in May. At issue in the dispute were two separate abortion regulations, one requiring that abortion providers dispose of fetal remains in a humane way, and a second banning abortions on the basis of sex, race, or disability. In an apparent compromise, the justices reinstated that fetal remains regulations, but left a lower court ruling striking down the trait selective abortion ban in place.
Though Thomas agreed that the Court should not review the ban on trait-selective abortions, he said the justices would eventually have to decide on the constitutionality of such laws given what he called abortion’s eugenic potential. The justice pointed to growing disparities between male and female populations in Asia, as well as the virtual elimination of down syndrome in western Europe, as evidence of abortion’s eugenic bent.
“Abortion has proved to be a disturbingly effective tool for implementing the discriminatory preferences that undergird eugenics,” Thomas’s opinion reads.
The opinion drew fierce criticism from progressives, who accused Thomas of laying the groundwork for a judicial assault on contraception.
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