Clarence Thomas Takes the Low Road, and Should Recuse Himself from Key Cases

The new term has begun for a bitterly divided court in a dangerously divided nation, and the most visible event was a Supreme Court justice using the court's return as a book promotion to remind the world of his enemies, demons, biases and vendettas.

This is extraordinary and unprecedented.

Justice Clarence Thomas should now recuse himself from any cases involving any litigants who opposed his confirmation, because his attacks on them destroy any pretense of judicial impartiality. This is a man with a chip on his shoulder, axes to grind and scores to settle.

There is no need to re-litigate the issues surrounding his confirmation, our opinions of his tenure on the court or his various commentaries on divisive political and social issues. Perhaps Justice Thomas would feel more comfortable leaving the Supreme Court and running for public office — or hosting a conservative radio talk show.

The bottom line is this: The essence of the highest court in the land is the appearance and reality of judicial impartiality, with justices who stand for judicial temperament, fairness and respect for the law without using the forum of the court to settle scores with enemies or demonize those with whom they disagree.

There will be litigants with cases before the court who opposed Thomas's confirmation, and because Justice Thomas cannot control his urge to attack them while he sits in judgment of them, he should recuse himself from cases involving any of them.