Two different sources, one of them a member of the Court himself, said today that Thomas is doing fine. Which makes it even stranger that the Court’s press office won’t provide an update on his condition, even just to say that he’s been discharged from the hospital or that he’s still there but expects to leave soon.
It’s as if they want people to worry, probably needlessly.
Can we trust that Stephen Breyer would level with a tabloid cameraman when asked about Thomas’s condition?
Can we trust that a friend of Thomas’s would level with The Hill when asked the same thing?
Thomas’s close friend Armstrong Williams on Thursday told The Hill that Thomas is “resting and he’s going to be just fine” but declined to elaborate further on the justice’s health. Pressed on whether Thomas was still in the hospital, Williams declined to answer.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s resting and doing well,” he said, adding: “I don’t think the public cares about where he’s resting — it’s that he’s resting and he’s doing fine. I think the media cares about where he’s resting. The public doesn’t.”
I’m translating that as “Still in the hospital, recovering a bit more slowly than expected but recovering,” which is a relief. Even so, Jim Geraghty rightly asks why we’re getting our updates on Clarence Thomas’s health from TMZ instead of from the Supreme Court:
Justice Breyer tells TMZ that Justice Thomas is doing “fine”. We are thrilled to know that. But @JimGeraghty wants to know why tabloid street interviews are providing us better updates than the Supreme Court.
— Greg Corombos (@Dateline_DC) March 24, 2022
Remember, it was the Court’s press office that ignited the speculation by projecting on Sunday that Thomas would be released in a day or two. Having given us a timetable, it’s weird that they refuse to update it.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans are facing a dilemma. They’ve asked Dick Durbin to postpone the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson until the committee can see the pre-sentencing reports for the child porn cases that Jackson presided over as a district court judge. No way, says Durbin. That’s a “fishing expedition” aimed at smearing Jackson, which even some conservatives want no part of.
Republicans could force a postponement by boycotting the vote. Because the committee is evenly split at 11-11 and requires a majority to be present to conduct business, it would be paralyzed if all GOP members bolted. But that would be a bad look for the party when considering the nomination of the first black woman to the Court. Democrats would accuse Republicans of disrespecting Jackson for racial reasons, the committee version of a 1960s-style filibuster to block civil-rights legislation. Which would be nonsense — Democrats boycotted the committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett — but Republicans are probably calculating that there’s no sense handing Dems an attack like that when Jackson is all but certain to be confirmed anyway. And so, they’re dismissing the idea:
“There’s not going to be any boycott. There’s zero, not one iota chance that we would boycott,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of the committee…
“I don’t think that’s the right way,” [Lindsey] Graham said, asked if he would support a boycott…
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is also a member of the committee and an ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told reporters that he thought Republicans should “show up and try to be on our best behavior and treat the nominee respectfully.”…
“I intend to go to work and earn my money,” [Chuck] Grassley said, adding that there was “no thought of” boycotting.
I assume we’re headed for an 11-11 tie on the vote. The one X factor on the committee had been Lindsey Graham, who voted to confirm Jackson to the D.C. Circuit last year and who tends to support Democratic SCOTUS nominees on the theory that the president deserves deference so long as his candidate is qualified. But Graham has seemed butthurt ever since Biden decided to pass over South Carolina’s Michelle Childs for the nomination. Reportedly he’s now lobbying against Jackson within the Republican caucus:
Graham is giving his colleagues negative feedback about her nomination, according to other GOP senators.
“I haven’t asked any Republican not to vote for Judge Jackson. They can make their own mind up,” Graham said in an interview. “I’ve been giving them my two cents worth.”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) March 24, 2022
My guess is she’ll get Susan Collins’s vote and maybe Lisa Murkowski’s, although Murky is up for reelection soon and may not want to take that heat. I’d be surprised if Jackson gets any more Republicans than that.
Here’s McConnell today announcing that he’s a no.
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 24, 2022