It’s glorious to live in a technological age where there’s a tweet or a tape of everything. Clarence Thomas spoke before a group in 2001 and told them that being on the Supreme Court was not worth the money, and it was a real pain in the butt to do, but since he was a man of high moral character, he did it. I’m paraphrasing but that’s the gist of his remarks, which you’ll see below. Be that as it may, Thomas found a way to make the position very worth the money. Insider:
Justice Clarence Thomas — who has accepted lavish vacations and other financial benefits from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow for years — said in a speech in 2001 that serving on the Supreme Court wasn’t worth it for what it paid.
“The job is not worth doing for what they pay,” Thomas said during a speech in 2001, The New York Post reported at the time. “The job is not worth doing for the grief. But it is worth doing for the principle.”
Thomas was speaking to the Bar Association in Savannah, Georgia, according to the Post. In the speech, which was resurfaced this week by The Nation writer Jeet Heer, Thomas discussed his efforts to gain custody of his then-10-year-old grandnephew. The Post reported Thomas cried during the speech and thanked his lawyer who worked on the custody battle.
In 2001, the salary for an associate Supreme Court justice was $178,300, while the chief justice made $186,300. As of 2023, the salary for an associate justice is $285,400, while the chief justice makes $298,500.
From what we’ve seen reported recently, the real principle that motivated Clarence Thomas was the idea that he was above the law. That’s the principle that his actions are consistent with.