Partisan attacks on Justice Thomas succeed in reducing favorability among public

May 25, 2023

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been hated by the left for decades, has in recent months been subjected to a concerted and coordinated attack over alleged ethics violations by progressive activists and their media allies.

The series of media attacks and partisan smears appear to have been successful, to an extent, in that a recent poll showed that Thomas now has the highest unfavorability rating of all nine justices on the high court, The Hill reported.

The black conservative jurist takes over the dubious honor from conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who himself has been subjected to years of partisan media attacks and smears in relation to baseless and unproven allegations of sexual misconduct in his past.

Thomas is now viewed as the most unfavorable

Marquette Law School surveyed 1,010 U.S. adults between May 8-18, with a margin of error of 3.7 percent, and asked a series of questions about the Supreme Court and the nine justices who sit on its bench.

One of the questions asked respondents to rate their view of each justice as favorable or unfavorable -- or acknowledge that they didn't know enough to rate them either way -- and found that, except for Thomas and Kavanaugh, a majority of those polled were unable to rate the individual jurists.

Of those who did know enough, however, Thomas fared the worst with a 25 percent favorable view and 36 percent unfavorable view, for a net rating of -11 points. Kavanaugh came in second in terms of unfavorability with 32 percent in contrast to 22 percent favorable, for a net rating of -10.

In comparison to the same poll's results in March, before the recent series of attacks on Thomas, Thomas' favorable/unfavorable numbers were 29/32 percent, for a net rating of -3, while Kavanaugh's numbers were 25/34 percent, a net rating of -9.

Notably, the justices with the highest favorability and a positive rating included the three liberal jurists -- Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagen, and Ketanji Brown Jackson -- plus, albeit just barely, Republican-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Supreme Court still viewed as more ethical and confidence-inspiring than journalists or Congress

The pollsters did ask about the series of media reports on alleged ethical violations and failures to disclose certain financial transactions with regard to Justice Thomas and determined that, particularly among Democrats and those who closely follow the news, the reports had gained traction and likely contributed to the decrease in the jurist's favorability.

To be sure, coinciding with the concerted media assault on Thomas were a few attacks on other conservative justices, and altogether those media reports helped to reduce the overall approval rating for the Supreme Court as a whole and the public's perception of the ethical standards of the institution.

That said, despite the decrease, the Supreme Court was still viewed as having better ethical standards than journalists, lawyers, and cable TV news, and the public still retained more confidence in the Supreme Court than they do for the U.S. president, local news, Congress, and the national media.

All part of a broad effort to undermine the conservative-leaning court

As for the "false leftist attacks" on Justice Thomas, according to a Fox News op-ed from conservative law professor John Yoo, who previously clerked for Thomas, those are both a continuation of the decades-long leftist hatred for Thomas specifically as well as part of a broader new effort by the left to undermine the legitimacy and independence of the Supreme Court for partisan purposes.

The attacks on Thomas are centered on allegations that he unethically accepted and failed to report various "gifts" from a personal friend, but Yoo explained how the attacks were baseless given that Thomas was not required to report such personal "hospitality" at the time, and in one instance involving the sale of a property has since corrected what was a mere accounting error.

With regard to the attacks on the Supreme Court itself, that quite simply stems from partisan Democratic dissatisfaction with the current 6-3 balance in favor of conservatives and, given the unlikelihood of success for leftist calls to "pack the court" with new liberal jurists to alter that balance, has led to efforts to delegitimize the court, its decisions, and its members in hopes of swaying public opinion enough to support the imposition of congressional oversight on the independent third branch of the federal government.

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