MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Clarence Thomas Mocks Cory Booker's 'Spartacus' Grandstanding

“If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity, how do we keep a civil society?" Thomas said.

Consolidated News Photos/Newscom Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/NewscomConsolidated News Photos/Newscom Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

Without naming the New Jersey Democrat, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas mocked Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) for grandstanding last week at Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.

Booker caused quite a stir as Kavanaugh, the nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Court, answered questions from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Booker claimed he was risking Senate expulsion by releasing supposedly confidential emails from Kavanaugh's time as a lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. "This is the closest I'll get to an 'I am Spartacus' moment," Booker said, referring to the famous quote from the 1960 film.

The emails, though, had already been cleared for release, so Booker wasn't actually risking anything. And while he drew attention to one email with the subject line "Racial Profiling," that message wasn't the smoking gun Booker hoped it would be. Kavanaugh wrote at the time that while he "generally favor[s] effective security measures that are race-neutral," it's still necessary to "grapple…with the interim question of what to do before a truly effective and comprehensive race-neutral system is developed and implemented."

In an interview with Leonard Leo, vice president of the conservative Federalist Society, Thomas couldn't help but mock Booker's "Spartacus moment." The interview took place last week, but aired on CSPAN yesterday.

"Honorable—if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of 'Spartacus,'" Thomas said.

His remark garnered laughter from those in attendance, but then he got more serious. "If we could use the word honorable more often, think about the difference it'll make," Thomas added. "Then, you'll have a legacy. We will have left the country in better shape, morally, structurally than we found it."

"Honorable" is not the right word to describe how some Senate Democrats acted at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. As Reason's Damon Root noted, the first day of hearings had barely started when Judiciary Committee Democrats interrupted Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) with repeated motions to adjourn. The senators didn't want to continue until tens of thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh's tenure in the Bush administration were released.

The grandstanding didn't stop there. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) challenged Kavanaugh's position on assault weapons bans by falsely claiming that assault weapons have been used in "hundreds of school shooting…in recent history."

And other prominent Democrats—including Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.)—used a deceptively edited video to distort Kavanaugh's statements on birth control and argue that he believes birth control is an "abortion-inducing drug." In reality, Kavanaugh was simply citing someone else's belief, not his own (though that didn't stop Hillary Clinton from spreading this particular piece of fake news).

Thomas didn't talk about any of those instances in his interview with Leo, but he may as well have when he referenced those who focus on their own "interests, or scoring points, or looking cute, or being on TV."

"If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity," he added, then "how do we keep a civil society?"

Photo Credit: Consolidated News Photos/Newscom Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lefties HATE Clarence Thomas.

    We'll have to get Reason staff to let us know if at the Lefty Cosmo parties the "N" word gets dropped a lot or just a little bit.

  • Just Say'n||

    We already know what progressives say about Thomas. They don't even bother to say it behind closed doors when they imply that he is an "uncle Tom" or "stupid".

  • ||

    "Token Black"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Quick, someone #MeToo him! Oh, wait...

  • MoreFreedom||

    Seems to me, thankfully, that people are judging the evidence more these days when #metoo allegations are made. It's very easy to make false allegations without any consequence these days, which undermine the pain of real victims.

    As Thomas points out, honor, integrity and ethics are very important. And as good businessmen know, it takes many years to build a reputation and only seconds to lose it.

    I'd like to add, these words definitely don't apply to the Clintons, Harris, Booker, Obama, Strzok, Page, Comey, Ohr, and the rest of the conspiring fake Russian cabal. Yet, Democrats continue to defend them. That's to their dishonor.

    I'd like to see some Democrats return to defending personal freedoms, and denouncing the big liars in their party. I can accept marketing exaggeration about positive accomplishments, but that's about it. Bearers of false witness don't deserve any votes, because it's incompatible with civility, honor, integrity and a free society.

  • Just Say'n||

    Let's be serious, though, if the roles were reversed Republicans would be performing some ridiculous spectacles too. Granted, the media wouldn't be willing to accept their propaganda at face value, but some of the antics would have been the same.

    And Thomas is echoing a sentiment that RBG recently made about Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing: These hearings have become a farce

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Kavanaugh responded to over 1,000 questions from Senators. Over 1,000!?! That shit is ridiculous. I would have answered every question with the same answer: Fuck you Democrats!

    Fox- Kavanaugh responds to over 1,000 questions from Senators

  • Don't look at me.||

    It's all a farce. Everyone needs to be voted out. Every time.

  • ||

    It's all a farce. Everyone needs to be voted out. Every time.

    Agreed. Term limits and/or only non-consecutive terms. 50% of one's life as a senator is more than enough.

  • arbe59||

    I struggle with the term-limit solution to keeping people from very long tenures in office. Term-limits seem like a legal solution to the people not doing their damn job.

  • Dillinger||

    word. nobody who desires political office should ever achieve it.

  • Dragan Stankovic||

    If we are being serious, then I would like to stop discussing every misstep by comparing it to the behavior of someone else. That type of rhetoric has become commonplace and is of no value as far as I can see.

    X messed up/acted poorly/made a misstep etc. What Y may or may not have done is a distraction and not worth discussing.

  • Just Say'n||

    I think it's fair to consider precedent and what the opposition would do in the same situation

  • Just Say'n||

    It doesn't excuse the actions, but it does offer a perspective to consider before people start losing their mind pretending as if every outrage is a new precedent and completely out of the blue. This insanity has been building for some time. Trump didn't just happen. Booker becoming a sniffling idiot didn't just happen.

  • Dragan Stankovic||

    I don't think it offers any perspective at all and allows people to avoid discussing the actual issues that matter. It is, at best, an academic observation to be noted and then ignored.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Booker becoming a sniffling idiot didn't just happen.

    Yeah, I'm pretty sue Booker's always been a sniffling idiot.

  • Dragan Stankovic||

    Also, if people are "pretending as if every outrage is a new precedent and completely out of the blue" then they are already pretending, so I don't agree that it addresses that at all. They are pretending for a reason, and that reason is not accuracy.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Yep, this idiot's 'Spartacus' moment is just like the domestic terrorists attacking speech goers while being aggressively disruptive.

    They know what they believe is correct and all others are evil are not worth listening to.

    As Thomas asked:

    "If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity," he added, then "how do we keep a civil society?"

    Answer: we cannot, but this problem has been building and getting worse and will either irreverisbly change society in a dangerous way or will take at least a couple of generations to fix, once it starts turning around (which is hasn't). The idea it's Trump's fault is retarded (as preferred by Wired, Google, and tons of others).

    Simply stated, far too many citizens and politicians agree they need to shut down free speech.

    And it should be beyond obvious that artificially preventing certain information from ever being heard makes us weaker overall, but most seem unconcerned or oblivious.

    In either case, this momentum in changing attitudes doesn't seem to be receeding.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Y's never admit when their "X" messes up.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Let's be serious, though, if the roles were reversed Republicans would be performing some ridiculous spectacles too."

    You would not have had any GOP spectators jumping up and yelling and screaming to interrupt the proceedings the way Dem spectators did. Some of them were most likely paid audience plants.

  • Tony||

    That's because Republican supporters have no idea what their principles are anymore.

  • Dragan Stankovic||

    You're not even making sense.

  • Tony||

    What are they going to shout? "Der libtard! Lock her up! Fuck Kaepernick!"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Remember when lefties flipped out about Tebow kneeling and then didnt when Kaepernick took a knee?

  • Tony||

    No. Tebow's just compensating for his homosexuality anyway.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So you do remember.

  • BYODB||

    Or, and this may shock you, maybe Republicans have diverse beliefs just like Democrats do and have to build a coalition.

  • Tony||

    Yes. Ted Cruz is on that committee after all.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed.

    Then Trump will get to replace Thomas after election 2018 goes badly for Democrats.

    RBG and Breyer will croak soon, so more picks for Trump.

  • Tony||

    Got any stock tips?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony stocks are losers. Dont ever buy.

  • damikesc||

    Let's be serious, though, if the roles were reversed Republicans would be performing some ridiculous spectacles too. Granted, the media wouldn't be willing to accept their propaganda at face value, but some of the antics would have been the same.

    Didn't see this for any Dem nominee yet, personally.

    The hearings should cease and never return.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Yeah, this silly grandstanding by Democrats started with the first televised confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas confirmed 52-48. Obama got Kagan confirmed 63-37 and Sotomayor confirmed 68-31. If any Republican had a Spartacus Moment during those hearings it wasn't widely publicized.
    Republicans are at least as responsible for fucking up the republic as Democrats are. But if history is a precursor, we would not be subjected to this level of lunacy in confirmation hearings if the roles were reversed.

  • BYODB||


    Let's be serious, though, if the roles were reversed Republicans would be performing some ridiculous spectacles too.

    The roles were reversed with Garland, and Republicans shrugged and said 'nah, not gonna confirm no matter what'.

    Did they have hearings where they verbally abused Garland? I don't recall that this is something that happened, but maybe my memory hole is bigger and/or deeper than yours?

    Maybe Republicans had the power to do what they wanted and didn't need to lie their asses off to block something that they can't block anyway?

    The real takeaway here is that Republicans haven't said 'fuck these sham trials' and gone to a vote already. That's already better than what the Democrat response would be, given that Democrats are specifically the one's who shredded their ability to block nominee's. It's a case of trying to blame someone else for their party shooting themselves in the foot.

  • Sonny Bono's Ghost||

    I think you've hit on a point that is often goes overlooked. The media's role of speaking truth to power and checking against this kind of absurdist grand-standing largly still works were conservatives are conserned. The certainty of them being roasted alive in the public forum precludes most of the behavior that the Left just gets a complete pass on these days, and this marks, if not brightly highlights the media's bias and the stark difference in the treatment of both camps.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Let's look at GOP antics for SCOTUS nominations.

    RBG confirmed by a 94-3 vote.
    Elena Kagan -- 63-37
    Sotomayor: 68-31

    By contrast...
    Robert Bork -- Borked
    Clarence Thomas - 52-48
    Neil Gorsuch -- 54-45
    Brett Kavanaugh will probably be in that neighborhood too.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "This is the closest I'll get to an 'I am Spartacus' moment," Booker said, referring to the famous quote from the 1960 film.

    Was this before or after pulling a puppy from a burning jet ski?

  • Just Say'n||

    You're just asking to get your ass beat by Booker's imaginary friend T-Bone

  • Just Say'n||

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I love the internet. Lefties can never hide from easily accessible history and real fact checkering members of the public.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The EU is working on that.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Hey, look at Just Say'n. He's givin' it to T-Bone. He's jumpin' up and down like some kind of monkey.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Koko the monkey"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Who's going to do the Candy Line Up?

  • Nardz||

    Twixxxxxxxxxxxx!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its the only candy with the cookie crunch.

  • Brian||

    I just hope democrats can grow a conscience and stop lying through this whole process.

  • lafe.long||

    Thomas didn't talk about any of those instances in his interview with Leo, but he may as well of when he referenced those who focus on their own "interests, or scoring points, or looking cute, or being on TV."

    You should of used, "he may as well have"

  • Just Say'n||

    That's a real easy mistake to make. When you speak the phrase it sounds like you're saying "of" instead of "have", unless you talk all sophisticated and shit and pronounce your words correctly. In which case you can go get fucked

  • Nardz||

    No.
    Fuck that.
    Substituting 'of' for 'have' is my biggest internet pet peeve.
    It's fucking idiotic.
    We're trying to have a society here

  • Tony||

    And you don't have to be the fucking queen of England to make a clear distinction between "of" and "have" when you speak.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Look at Tony bring royalty into it. Lefties love them some TOP KINGS and QUEENS to run things.

  • Tony||

    Bottom queens too.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Power bottoms?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    As long as it's renewable power

  • Red Tony||

    May as well've.

  • Dragan Stankovic||

    "You should of used, "he may as well have""

    This is excellent, needs love.

  • Ecoli||

    Spartacus, is that you?

  • Dillinger||

    >>>"This is the closest I'll get ...

    referencing your own Spartacus moment means you're still six miles away.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Clarence Thomas might be the worst of the current Supreme Court justices. Part of the reason I voted for Hillary Clinton is because I hoped Thomas would retire and Clinton could replace him with someone similar to RBG. But Russia hacked the election and installed a Kremlin asset President, and now we're faced with the terrifying prospect of Drumpf replacing RBG with someone like Thomas. As damaging to the progressive / libertarian alliance as Brett Kavanaugh would be, another "strict constructionist" taking over RBG's seat would be infinitely worse.

  • creech||

    Completely agree. Clinton would have appointed Barack Obama, brilliant constitutional lawyer. Then, for her second nomination, diversify the court with a Native American (Cherokee, I believe) and perhaps a transgendered Muslim Sharia law expert who is married to a Dreamer whose son is a gang member. SCOTUS needs complete diversity (haters, wreckers, and anyone to the left of Tim Kaine excepted).

  • lap83||

    "transgendered Muslim Sharia law expert who is married to a Dreamer whose son is a gang member."

    You give her too much credit....she would just nominate a major donor

  • Ecoli||

    You guys have an incendiary word to describe naggers like Thomas, don't you?

  • Dogs feet smell like Fritos||

    Niggardly with his questions?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "As damaging to the progressive / libertarian alliance as Brett Kavanaugh would be, another "strict constructionist" taking over RBG's seat would be infinitely worse." Well now you've got me all hot and bothered, oven baked.

  • ||

    What is this progressive / libertarian alliance you speak of?

  • Paradigm||

    A fantasy. That's what it is.

  • Jerryskids||

    "If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity," he added, then "how do we keep a civil society?"

    The older I get the more I ponder the degradation of society and of civilization and I have to ask myself, "What sort of world are we going to leave to Keith Richards?"

  • Shirley Knott||

    The sort where the world looks even worse than Keef?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I didn't bother watching any of Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings because I figured it would just be one Democrat after another beclowning themselves on live television, which might be funny at first but gets old very quickly. From everything I've read, it sounds like they didn't disappoint on that front.

  • Tony||

    Just the one instance of major beclowning. The rest were mostly quite relevant questions that Kavanaugh pretended he wasn't able to answer.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    How many times did he say he could not recall?

    DC is full of questions that do not get answered.

  • Tony||

    I am certainly no fan of Booker, but he isn't the first name that jumps to mind when talking about dishonorable politicians in office today.

  • ||

    And since we can only dislike one politician at a time, what are we to do?

  • BYODB||

    Name a politician: congrats you just named someone dishonorable with something like 99% accuracy.

  • BYODB||


    "If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity," he added, then "how do we keep a civil society?"


    Haha, well for one thing civil society is dead. Long dead. In fact, it's been dead so long that no one remembers what it even looked like. At least in terms of national politics. On the local level, it's hard to go full retard.

  • Shirley Knott||

    As Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, and countless others say "hold my beer." Full retard is becoming the baseline.

  • BYODB||

    I said 'hard to go full retard' not 'It's impossible to go full retard' and listing out four cities and a vague 'others' is certainly evidence in support of my point, so thanks.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    The entirety of California, much of NY and FL...
    It's becoming the norm rather than the exception, it just doesn't get the coverage nationally

  • ||

    "If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity, then how do we keep a civil society?"

    - Cicero

  • BYODB||

    Personally, I think the reason why is because there's a group of people that don't care about a civil society, they want a completely different society. Revolutions are rarely civil, even while virtually all of them are civil.

    Thanks english language, you make sentences fun.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Cory Booker didn't come from the 'hood.
    He came from upper middle class parents who were executives at IBM.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Seriously How does Booker recover politically from this? He lies about being expelled, compares himself to Spartacus and produces an email most would describe as innocuous. I mean I know he's black and a Democrat but even Democrats draw the line somewhere don't they? Oh wait. Ted Kennedy killed a woman and became the Lion of the Senate and Bob Byrd was an officer in the KKK and was Majority Leader in the senate. Yeah, Booker will be fine.

  • prolefeed||

    What Booker did will likely be memoryholed after a news cycle or so, assuming it is even reported elsewhere.

    Recovering politically for Democrats requires first doing multiple dick pics on the intertubes, or the equivalent.

  • retiredfire||

    Hey, don't leave out the feminist's icon of the serial sexual harasser, Slick Willy Clinton, who demoncraps consider "the most respected former impeached president, ever".

  • TxJack 112||

    For me the even more disturbing aspect of the recent events was the video of RBG being asked about the confirmation hearing process. The way she so slowly responded and clearly was having difficulty organizing her thoughts makes is really scary that she is still make decisions that affect the lives of 330 million people. She has a brilliant legal mind and has been a great justice, but everyone reaches a point when they should step aside. I have never seen a better example of why we need terms limits for the SCOTUS as well as Congress than her most recent interview.

  • akita96th||

    Only time Thomas opens his mouth is to show the world what a stupid ass he is.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Would the Dems throw all fertile American women under the Republican forced female labor bus if it meant preserving the fraudulent ban on freon, pushing global warming pseudoscience and reviving the hope of a Carbon Tax on everyone except communist China? Backstabbing Kavanaugh with a frameup could result in a mystical female Suprema Corte justice with all the objective analytical faculties of, say, Stephanie Slade.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online