U.S. Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Although he turns 71 on June 23, news of his possible retirement came as a surprise to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Speaking Monday to members of the Supreme Court Historical Society, Thomas recounted how his wife showed him an alert that she received about a potential retirement. Thomas’ response was, “Wow, glad to know that,” according to a video clip from C-SPAN posted by the Washington Post. “I mean, you have to know every day what’s on your schedule,” he said.

Thomas added that he has “no idea where this stuff comes from.” The New York Times, SCOTUSblog, CNN, the Washington Examiner and the National Law Journal also covered the event.

When moderator David Rubenstein asked Thomas whether he thinks his friends or enemies were circulating the retirement rumors, Thomas answered, “I think people just wanted me to know what I was going to do, since I couldn’t figure it out myself.”

Thomas also addressed retirement rumors in late March, when he insisted that he is not retiring during an appearance sponsored by Pepperdine University School of Law.

At the Supreme Court Historical Society event, Thomas said he enjoys his work and feels blessed to be on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rubenstein asked Thomas how he relaxes. “I really don’t have a lot of stress. I cause stress,” Thomas said. Thomas said he attends Mass and follows University of Nebraska sports teams. He and his wife also are planning their annual summer trip in their motor home.

Thomas also expressed frustration with intellectual stereotyping at the event, according to New York Times coverage. “People who will get very upset if someone said all blacks look alike are really comfortable saying all blacks ought to think alike,” Thomas said.

He also said he likes to hire law clerks from modest backgrounds, although he still insists on “a lot of horsepower,” according to the New York Times. One of his current clerks had never received a grade other than an A, he said. “Some of us have experienced the whole alphabet,” Thomas said.