The abortion draft decision leak was so shocking in part because there is a good deal of collegiality among Supreme Court justices.
Conservatives and lefties may decry it, but in fairly typical D.C. fashion, they tend to be pretty good friends, no matter who nominated them. Take the Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia friendship that inspired numerous op-eds and even an opera.
We were best buddies, Ginsburg wrote after Scalia died on Saturday. The two first served together in the early 1980s on the federal circuit court in Washington, D.C., from which each was chosen to be nominated for the Supreme Court.
They served together on the high court for more than 22 years, from when Ginsburg joined Scalia on the court in August of 1993, until Scalia’s death.
Now that the lynch mob is out for Justice Clarence Thomas again, these remarks by Justice Sotomayor are interesting.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke highly of colleague Justice Clarence Thomas during an event on Thursday, saying, “He is a man who cares deeply about the court as an institution.”
Sotomayor, who is liberal, acknowledged during remarks at the American Constitution Society that while she often disagrees with the conservative justice, she believes that “we share a common understanding about people and kindness towards them”
The American Constitution Society is the liberal counterpart to the Federalist Society so she’s not exactly speaking to people who like Thomas.
“Justice Thomas is the one justice in the building that literally knows every employee’s name, every one of them. And not only does he know their names, he remembers their families’ names and histories,” she said.
“He’s the first one who will go up to someone when you’re walking with him and say, ‘Is your son okay? How’s your daughter doing in college?’ He’s the first one that, when my stepfather died, sent me flowers in Florida,” she added.
This isn’t exactly the first time around. This is from last year.
As an example, Sotomayor explained that people find it odd that she considers Justice Clarence Thomas a friend, even though their judicial philosophies are so different. But she said there are few men who have a “kinder heart” than him. When someone in her family died, he sent flowers. And when she has been sick, he checked in on her.
“I see in him the basic caring about people that I have,” Sotomayor said. “We are both committed friends and committed family members.
“And so, in seeing that good in him, there is no reason for me to take our personal disputes and translate it into our personal interactions. We work together. We have to work together for the rest of our time on the court.”
This year, Thomas is much more in the eye of the hurricane. So while Sotomayor has talked about Thomas before, there’s a certain defiance or court solidarity in doing so now. While I don’t particularly care for institutional solidarity in D.C., arguably one of the country’s biggest governmental problems, it points again to how big of a violation the draft leak was.