U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has voiced his concern about the divisive nature of politics in America, citing a culture where people “aren’t thinking things through.” His comments came Wednesday during a banquet celebrating his 25th year of serving on the Supreme Court.
“The city is broken,” Thomas said to a friendly audience at the Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank based in Washington D.C. He was responding to a question about the Supreme Court confirmation process, which has become an increasingly polarizing topic since President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the open seat in March, CNN reported. “We have decided rather than confront disagreements and the differences of opinion, we will simply annihilate the person who disagrees.”
Thomas spoke about his affection toward the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, when addressing the dwindling support within the U.S. legal system for upholding his opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. The landmark 2008 case protected an individual’s right to possess a firearm for “traditional lawful purposes,” such as self-defense in the home.
He also uttered his disapproval at gun law activists who are imploring the lower courts to mandate the Supreme Court take up another Second Amendment case.
The support for a ban on assault weapons in the United States was at a record low with only 36 percent of Americans favoring to make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns, down from 44 percent four years ago, according to a Gallup poll Wednesday.
Thomas additionally seized the moment to cast jokes about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, highlighting how the official name of the nationwide health insurance seemed ironic given the recent premiums increases, resulting in higher costs.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a report that premiums increased from 2 percent in 2015 to 7.5 percent in 2016. Across the 39 states using the Healthcare.gov platform, Obamacare premiums are set to skyrocket an average of 22 percent for the benchmark silver plan in 2017, CNN reported.
Thomas voted against the law when it was presented before the court.
The court’s lone black judge expressed his belief that the Constitution was a living document that must be amended. Prior Supreme Court decisions should constantly be changed in accordance to the pulse of the nation, he said.
“You’ve got a lot of precedents out there that have to be changed,” Thomas said. “I believe we are obligated to rethink things constantly.”
The level of trust in the federal government continued to be at historically low levels among Americans, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report. Only 19 percent of Americans said they can trust in the government in Washington “to do what is right.” Three percent said they do so “just about always” and 16 percent said they do “most of the time.”
The report revealed this lack of faith permeates across both sides of aisle, with only 26 percent of Democrats saying they can trust the federal government “nearly always” or “most of the time,” compared with 11 percent of Republicans.
“At some point, we are going to have to recognize that we are destroying our institutions,” Thomas added Wednesday.