Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas dismissed rumors of his retirement on Monday, stating that he has “no idea” where they came from.
“I think people just wanted me to know what I was going to do since I couldn’t figure it out myself,” he told financier David Rubenstein during an interview televised on C-SPAN.
Thomas, 70, said he first heard the story from his wife, Virginia, “who gets these alerts,” and told him, “You’re going to retire.”
“Wow, glad to know that,” he replied.
As for where the speculation started, Thomas appeared mystified.
“I have no idea where this stuff comes from,” he said. “One of the things you have to get used to in this business ... is that people can say things about you and for you that have nothing to do with you.”
According to The Washington Post, justices are frequently targeted by rumors of retirement circulated by those who’d like to see a younger candidate fill their spot while a president with similar political views has the power to nominate them.
Having been confirmed to the Supreme Court bench in 1991, Thomas is currently the court’s longest-serving member and a powerful conservative voice. The justice has a track record of writing highly controversial opinions, making headlines last month when he argued that abortion could be used to engage in “eugenic manipulation,” the practice of eliminating from the population traits seen as inferior.
In February, he called for the review of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, a landmark case that bolstered First Amendment protections for a free press.
The last justice to retire was Anthony Kennedy, who stepped down in 2018 at age 82. He was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh, who is 54.