Justice Clarence Thomas took a jab at New Jersey Democratic Sen. Corey Booker over the "Spartacus" comment he made during Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.
"Honorable -- if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of 'Spartacus,'" Thomas said during conversation with the the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo last week. The conversation was aired on C-SPAN Wednesday and was filmed at the inaugural Gregory S. Coleman Memorial Lecture.
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The audience and Thomas both laughed following the comment.
Booker drew attention last week when he said he was releasing "committee confidential" records to the public, and then later added, "This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an 'I am Spartacus' moment."
It turned out the records had already been approved for public release earlier that morning. Booker was criticized by Republicans for grandstanding in the hearing.
Many believe Booker will make a presidential bid in the near future.
Thomas' comments were a further look into the attitudes toward confirmation hearings among current Supreme Court justices. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Wednesday she feels the confirmation process ought to go back to the way it was when she was confirmed, 96-3, in 1993
"If we could use the word honorable more often, think about the difference it'll make," Thomas said. "Then, you'll have a legacy. We will have left the country in better shape, morally, structurally than we found it."
"But as long as we're looking at our interests, or scoring points, or looking cute, or being on TV," Thomas said, "Especially the legal system, how do we maintain it? If you can't debate hard issues honestly, with honor, with integrity, how do we keep a civil society?"