'Man of integrity': Stephen Breyer defends Clarence Thomas
Liberal Stephen Breyer dismissed the left's latest smear campaign against Clarence Thomas, calling his former colleague on the Supreme Court a "man of integrity."
The left has for weeks sought to impugn Thomas' character by casting aspersions about his friendship with a Republican donor, Harlan Crow.
Some Democrats have even called for Thomas to be impeached or investigated by the Justice Department over his failure to disclose vacations he accepted from Crow.
Breyer backs Clarence Thomas
There is no indication that any improper exchange of favors ever took place, and Crow has never had a case before the court while Thomas was there. Thomas has said that he was told he didn't need to report gifts of hospitality from a friend.
Nevertheless, Democrats have seized on the "scandal" to pressure Thomas and the conservative court more broadly, which Democrats have sought to "reform" since losing control of it during the Trump presidency.
At an event for the First Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday, Breyer, who retired last year, made clear he wanted no part of the left's campaign as he vouched for the honesty of his "friend."
"As far as I'm concerned, I sat next to him on the bench for 28 years. I like him. He's a friend of mine. I've never seen him do anything underhanded or say anything underhanded," Breyer said.
"My personal point of view is he's a man of integrity," he added.
Despite their often-sharp ideological differences, the justices are known for their collegiality and deference to the Supreme Court's independence.
Breyer has previously gone on the record against court packing.
In his latest comments, he demurred on the left's push for a Supreme Court code of ethics, saying it isn't necessary and that it would complicate the business of the court, as justices who recuse themselves cannot be replaced like judges on lower courts can.
Any effort by Congress to significantly "reform" the Supreme Court raises concerns about the separation of powers. It's hardly an abstract issue, given the Democrats' obvious desire to regain control of the court.
Breyer dismissed the notion that the justices are lacking in rectitude, saying he follows a rule that "whatever applies to all the judges applies to me."