Thomas on 2nd Amendment: 'We Want To Pretend [It] Doesn't Exist'

Penny Starr | October 27, 2016 | 3:27pm EDT
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Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

( Starr)

( – Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said on Wednesday that the Constitution contains everything needed to interpret the law, despite efforts by some to downplay certain portions of it, particularly the Second Amendment.

Thomas was asked by John Malcolm, director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, about ensuring personal and economic liberty.

“You talk a little bit about privileges or immunities; you’ve made some statements about substantive due process,” Malcolm said at the Heritage’s Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture in Washington, D.C. where Thomas made his remarks. “So when you look at different clauses in terms of protecting personal liberties, economic liberties, which clauses do you sort of gravitate to – due process clause, equal protection clause, privileges or immunities clause or what other provisions?”

“Whatever’s in the Constitution,” Thomas said. “It is all there. The Bill of Attainders is there.”

“The Third Amendment is there -- that we skip over,” Thomas said, referring to the constitutional guarantee of domestic privacy.

“The Second Amendment -- we want to pretend doesn’t exist,” Thomas said of the right of all Americans to keep and bear arms.

“The First Amendment has ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion,’” Thomas said. “What is the establishment of religion?”

“It doesn’t have like a wall of separation,” Thomas said. “It has establishment of religion.”

“So you go back to the language,” Thomas said. “What does it mean?”

“We are obligated to do that,” Thomas said, adding that otherwise judges can look elsewhere and away from “the limitations built into the Constitution itself.”

Thomas spoke about his 25 years on the land’s highest court, including taking his clerks on field trips so they could understand the history of the country and the court’s role in it.

“I thought it was a great idea to go and have them see it wasn’t about winning an argument,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t about a subject.

“It’s about us and our country,” Thomas said.

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