Transcript of Justice Thomas' Comments on 'Oath'

One of Atrios' readers has emailed him the transcript of what Justice Clarence Thomas said at a swearing in ceremony in Alabama. (Background to controversy here.)

PARKER: Just moments before I placed my hand on the Holy Scripture, Justice Thomas soberly addressed me and those in attendance. He admonished us to remember that the worth of a justice should be evaluated by one thing, and by one thing alone: whether or not he is faithful to uphold his oath _ an oath which as Justice Thomas pointed out is not to the people; it's not to the state; it's not even to the Constitution, which is one to be supported, but is an oath which is to God Himself.

Atrios lets Thomas off the hook... technically.

let me just add that while I think Thomas is off the hook in some sense, it's precisely this kind of thing which bothers me about the "ceremonial deism" defense of seemingless "harmless" mixing of religion and government (God in pledge, on money, etc...) While a reasonable person will probably conclude that all Thomas meant was that the oath of office was to God, and therefore of paramount importance to keep, there's still the implication that for these judges, even in the context of serving the state they still consider God to be the higher power, and that view has been enshrined by various forays into ceremonial deism. Now, thinking God is a higher power is not especially surprising -- He is God, after all, and if you believe in Him of course his Almightyness will trump the puny power of the state. But, in the context of being a judge, a strong intertwining of your job and your religion raises legitimate questions about what you do, as a judge, when God's law and man's law collide.

It's not about belief in God as a higher power, it's about belief that you personally are sure that you know just what God's Law is, and how He would want you to carry it out.

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    Yeah, it really sucks when somebody gets off on a technicality, doesn't it? Still a silly thing to say, based on a semantical argument, but presumably Thomas takes his religion pretty seriously.

    This wouldn't bother me as much if the sentiment was commonly held amongst the justices that the constitution is thus mandated by God, as opposed to the idea that some have of a mandate from God to change the constitution to reflect the "mandate" of a narrowly held belief set.

    He can take his religion seriously all he wants, just not on the bench. He is a public servant, not God's servant.

    et al - I think the oath ends with "so help me God." Anyway you cut it, the oath is to God, that you will do what you have pledged to do, and God is to judge. Seems simple to me. But then I'm not anti-Thomas.

    Those with anti-religious sentiments are in essence denying any public servant their 1st Amendment right to free exercise and establishing the religion of Confusion.

    Bendito, Just out of curiosity, if I have no religious sentiments, is that the same as having "anti-religious sentiments?"

    Actually, I am a religiously observant person. And I'm not anti-Thomas or anti-any SC judge. I just think the allegiance of a public servant should be to the Constitution not to God in the context of his or her public service. If the person cannot do that, don't take the job. As far as the oath being "so help me God" I think that should be changed. It's been changed by many courts so that witnesses don't have to say it when they are sworn in to testify. I am anti-theocracy and oppose any and all attempts by the extreme religious right to insert their religious beliefs in every aspect of our government, from the Executive to judicial branches.

    It does not matter if "the Gore legal team objected." The act of the SCOTUS, with Thomas voting in assent, in spite of his OBVIOUS conflict-of-interest (his wife's political ties to Bush), was illegal, violated the truth, and confused political action for legal action, the whole reason why justices are given lifetime terms. If they are to act politically, then they should be elected to fixed terms, just like politicians. Justices are NOT politicians, and balance of power concerns which SHOULD have guided justices, in this case singularly did not. SCOTUS violated the truth: "The falsity of this pivotal assertion was subsequently attested to by a distinguished member of the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Leander J. Shaw, Jr., whose rebuke to the U.S. Supreme Court majority is especially noteworthy in that Justice Shaw was one of the 3 Florida Supreme Court justices who dissented in the Florida Supreme Court's 4-3 ruling in favor of Albert Gore on December 8, 2000..." And they violated their MOST essential duty: "...the harm to liberty and democracy is especially acute when, as here, the "political question" case decided by five unelected justices of the Supreme Court imprudently and outrageously invaded the powers of the states and Congress over the selection of the democratically elected head of the Executive branch, the President of the United States" "—a branch of government commensurably empowered with the federal judiciary, and one which serves to check and balance the powers of the federal judiciary by way of the president's power to nominate federal judges, United States Supreme Court justices, and the Chief Justice of the United States;" Thomas has shown himself guilty of: 1) Willful Nullification of the Rule of Law (2) Dereliction of Ethical Duty (3) Abuse of Federal Judicial Power source and background NO ONE, but Justice Thomas, made him violate his oath to uphold the Constitution in this way. If he thought he was serving God by putting this fake Christian cowboy on the throne, he was sorely mistaken, but that really doesn't matter. His own acts, lies, and corruption damn him.

    Re: Transcript of Justice Thomas' Comments on 'Oat (none / 0) (#9)
    by pigwiggle on Tue Jan 18, 2005 at 01:58:52 PM EST
    PinLA “his wife's political ties to Bush” Her job was to influence the president, whomever it turned out to be, on behalf of the non-profit she worked for. This really doesn’t seem like much of a conflict. “It does not matter if "the Gore legal team objected."” I’m not a lawyer, but who else would have the standing to do so? Additionally, I would suggest that since they didn’t, they knew the objection had little merit.

    Were it anyone other than a USSC justice and were we living in less fundamentalist times, I, too, would be letting this sort of talk off the hook. It can certainly be taken in a number of ways. And THAT is, in fact the problem: because it can be taken as an endorsement of the ongoing attack on the separation of church and state, this sort of just-between-you-and-me rhetoric from a judge should be attacked and vilified as the cover it clearly is for fundamentalism, wherever and whenever it is found. Thomas continues to think we are a nation under god to the exclusion of being a nation under law. If he can't - or won't understand the difference, then he has no right to sit on ther USSC. But we all knew this all along. Thurgood Marshall just keeps rolling in his grave.

    "Posted by pigwiggle: “his wife's political ties to Bush” You missed the key phrase "IN SPITE OF"; in other words, not recusing himself was improper, but it is MOOT to the actual act of Thomas, however much it should have made him recuse himself. IF he had recognized this obvious condition of bias -- for a Justice, the appearance of bias is as important as its probity -- he could have spared himself. He had cause to recuse himself, but HE DID NOT. “It does not matter if "the Gore legal team objected."” "I’m not a lawyer, but who else would have the standing to do so? Additionally, I would suggest that since they didn’t, they knew the objection had little merit." Ridiculous, and wrong. It doesn't matter if the Emperor of the Moon didn't assert his legal rights in this case. The acts, in themselves, are: • clearcut violations of the separation of powers, • the NON-POLITICAL nature of the Court, • the rule of law (specifically the Hayes-Tilden law which clearly removes the Court from elections), • and the violation is extraordinarily and SPECIFICALLY to control the branch which has DIRECT powers over the Judiciary. Shoot some more wind out of your rear, pigwiggle. These ACTS, under color of authority, by Thomas have damned him to history. The inapplicability of Bush v. Gore, stated in the document itself, to other cases is clear evidence that the malfeasant SCOTUS justices KNEW they were committing an act of unconstitutional, unlawful, tyranny.

    Re: Transcript of Justice Thomas' Comments on 'Oat (none / 0) (#12)
    by pigwiggle on Tue Jan 18, 2005 at 02:33:22 PM EST
    PinLA- “It doesn't matter if the Emperor of the Moon didn't assert his legal rights in this case.” Well, if your ‘emperor of the moon’ had the Gore legal team I would defer to their decision. As seriously as they contested it seems implausible they simply chose not to assert their rights. “in other words, not recusing himself was improper,” You missed my point; I’m arguing that there was no conflict. If there was no conflict of interest there was no reason for the justice to recuse himself.

    Re: Transcript of Justice Thomas' Comments on 'Oat (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ray Radlein on Tue Jan 18, 2005 at 04:03:30 PM EST
    Actually, as far as the "...so help me God" goes, I am under the impression that there are alternate valid forms of the oath which omit that phrase (and that, perhaps ironically, those alternate forms came into being at the behest of various Christian sects who reject the notion of swearing upon the name of God).

    Conflict of interest is not the issue, though it is certainly at issue. The ability of the Gore legal team, or any legal team, is moot. The acts on their face are a clear violation of the oath Thomas took to defend the Constitution, and that means Federal law, the just separtion of powers in the Federal government, and the impartiality of the Court. The recusal would have SPARED Thomas. By not recusing himself, and, beyond that controversy, signing that decision, he damned himself, and there is no one else to blame for that, since he is in a position of singular authority EXACTLY so he would be responsible to avoid such acts. That's what the oath means, for a justice. Not only isn't he fit to serve, he isn't fit to be Chief Justice, no more than Renquist, who also defiled himself and the Court. Perfect that the lying murderous traitor will get another fake, garish ceremony at the hand of the most dishonored Chief Justice since Dred Scott.

    Re: Transcript of Justice Thomas' Comments on 'Oat (none / 0) (#15)
    by pigwiggle on Wed Jan 19, 2005 at 05:34:16 AM EST
    PinLA- Well, that’s it. There is no reasoning with you.

    That's right, pigwiggle, because I actually post facts, legal arguments, and direct accusations against the guilty, and you post distractions from the issue and shoot-from-the-hip $R-style LIES. 'No reasoning' means that the argument is sound, and you can't wiggle your pig pals out of the mountain of sh*t they themselves stepped into, because their greed outweighs anything like a conscience. --