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As Justice Clarence Thomas faces attacks from liberals — including a recent petition to have him removed from George Washington University’s faculty — the justice is more influential than ever, experts on the justice tell Fox News.
“The left has been after Clarence Thomas since December of 1980, really — just as he was about to join the Reagan administration. And they hate him,” Mark Paoletta told Fox News Digital. Paoletta was with the George H.W. Bush administration during Thomas’ confirmation and helped recruit him for the job.
“They’ve tried to destroy him. They’ve tried to marginalize him,” Paoletta said. “And 30 years later, he’s not just standing strong. His influence is at its zenith.”
Conservatives, especially those frustrated with sometimes centrist rulings from Chief Justice John Roberts, have lauded Thomas as the keystone of the court’s conservative bloc this term.
His most significant written opinion was the majority opinion in a New York gun case last month that was considered a major win for Second Amendment advocates. But perhaps his biggest win was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Thomas, Paoletta said, had been calling on the court to do that for decades.
“He didn’t write it, but the court was heavily influenced by Justice Thomas, in my opinion, the current sort of majority, by the courage he has shown in his jurisprudence,” Paoletta said. “Justice Thomas has been writing about overturning Roe for 30 years.”
Notably, Thomas was the most senior justice in the majority on the Dobbs case. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a concurring opinion saying he would uphold the Mississippi law underlying the litigation but not overturn Roe in its entirety. That means Thomas assigned the majority opinion to Alito.
“On so many topics, he used to be regularly a lone dissenter or joined only by Justice Scalia, but now he is the leader of a majority of justices who share his commitment to originalism and the rule of law,” Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino told Fox News Digital. Severino was a clerk for Thomas.
“This term, in the Bruen case, he wrote the majority opinion clarifying the Second Amendment,” Severino added. “Last term, the court finally recognized that the First Amendment protects a right to anonymous speech, something that Thomas had previously been a lone voice in advocating.”
Thomas’ heightened influence comes as liberals continue to step up their attacks against him. The justice has come under harsh criticism for the proximity of his wife, Virginia, to allies of former President Donald Trump as they were trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on false claims it was stolen.
He’s also seen protests outside his home, harsh words from former law school classmate Hillary Clinton, who called him an angry “person of grievance,” and, most recently, an effort to remove him from teaching duties at GW.
A group of students circulated a petition asking for Thomas to be fired because he not only supported overturning Roe, but wrote a concurring opinion saying other cases based on the same legal theories, including gay rights, should be revisited.
The university refused to remove Thomas from his class, which Paoletta said is “one of the most popular courses at GW. I mean, there’s a waiting list to get in.”
“This term is showing the massive influence of Justice Thomas …,” Paoletta said. “It’s all coming to fruition with the court aligning with him this term.”
Democrats, meanwhile, see this term as a sign that the conservative majority on the court will use its power to improperly push a partisan agenda.
“This term has put to bed any question about whether the Republican supermajority will exercise even a modicum of restraint in implementing its radical agenda,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of the liberal group Demand Justice, said. “In just a single term, they have decimated the country’s approach to abortion rights, climate change, gun violence prevention, tribal sovereignty and a host of other important issues.”
“The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United States on overruling not only Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy,” President Biden said Thursday.
Fox News’ David Rutz and Bailee Hill contributed to this report.