Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall says the Justice Department has been so politicized that it is trying "to undermine the Supreme Court itself."
Under Attorney General Edwin Meese III, the department recently has shown more interest in politics than sound legal arguments, Marshall said in an interview with columnist Carl T. Rowan. The interview is to be broadcast Sunday on WUSA-TV in Washington.
"I think there are certain movements that the Department of Justice is making which could be interpreted as trying to undermine the Supreme Court itself, which is of course impossible," Marshall said. "They can't separate the political from the legal. They write political speeches and put the word 'brief' on them."
But Marshall refused to give his opinion of Meese. "No comment," he said. Asked whether members of the high court discuss Meese in private, he responded: "No comment. No comment double."
Marshall, 79, also said attacks on defeated Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork's critics were unfounded.
Asked whether Bork was the victim of a "lynch mob" as President Reagan and other of his defenders charged, the justice said Bork's critics "researched the whole problem and they presented their research to take it or leave it."
He continued: "I never heard of a lynch mob putting it up to somebody else. The lynch mob takes it upon themselves to do something. I just think it's an unfair statement for anybody to have made."
Marshall recalled that his own nomination to the court was delayed for months but said he holds no grudges.
"Any individual, any group, has a specific duty, not only a right but a duty, to present to Congress their views on any matter that's before Congress," he said.