WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a formal complaint about a cross tattooed on Clarence Thomas’s lower back — a form of body art known as a “Tramp Stamp” — calling it a violation of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.
“An associate justice is a representative of the federal government,” Sotomayor wrote on her blog, “and therefore any religious symbols defacing his or her body are a clear violation of the Constitution.”
But Thomas contends the tattoo is merely the letter “t” for “thomas” and not a depiction of the symbol of Christianity. In addition, he said the location of the tattoo — which begins in his lumbar region and ends “just above my ass-crack” — is such that the image is covered up by his robe during the day. Thomas said he has “no idea” how Sotomayor even knows about.
“Everyone in Washington knows about it,” laughed Sotomayor. “The question is not ‘if it exists,’ but whether Justice Thomas should be allowed to have religious artwork sprouting from his anus.”
Republicans believe it’s an issue of privacy, and that public servants should be allowed to have crosses tattooed anywhere on their bodies. Conservative author Anne Coulter called it yet another assault on Christianity, and encouraged all believers to get “tramp-stamped” with a cross. Coulter said her own cross tattoo extends from her labia to “just past my belly-button.”
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended Thomas’s tramp-stamp, saying he believes the American people are “much better judges of how they should deface their bodies than the federal government.”
“For example, if Justices Ginsburg or Breyer wanted to tattoo that funny six-pointed star on their forearms,” said McConnell, “I would have no problem with that.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich agreed, saying he would take it one step further. “I would encourage all Jews to have the funny star tattooed on their forearms,” he said. “And if they wanted to add a unique identification number alongside it, who are we to oppose it?”
Sotomayor sent an email to Thomas, asking that he have the cross surgically removed, but Thomas declined.
“It’s part of my identity,” said Thomas. “The tramp-stamp stays.”