This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on May 1, 2023.
Justice Robert Jackson once remarked about the Supreme Court: “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” I would add: They are entitled to be final only because we believe they exercise independent judgment. Notice that I did not say “impartial.” We know that Justice Samuel Alito prefers anti-choice litigants; that Justice John Roberts prefers “colorblindness” over racial equity and that Justice Neil Gorsuch will block any attempt by workers to advocate for better working conditions. We despise them for it, but we obey their decisions because we hold fast to the idea that they are independent.
How can that belief be justified knowing what we do about Thomas? We may never know just how much influence Crow bought from Thomas over the many years of their “friendship,” but as Thomas’ other friend, conservative Juan Williams, noted in his recent column, “The real problem is that none of us can ever again get away from wondering.”