If you have the time, this long piece by Jeffrey Toobin on Clarence Thomas is well worth a read.
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by John Cole| 47 Comments
This post is in: Excellent Links
If you have the time, this long piece by Jeffrey Toobin on Clarence Thomas is well worth a read.
Comments are closed.
Davis X. Machina
My quick take is that the Black analogy doesn’t hold. Thomas hasn’t really moved the Court. He’s stood still — as far right (or back in the 19th Century) as you can get — and thanks to Bush-era appointments, the rest of the Court has slid over in an attempt to reach him.
Black actually moved, in areas apart from the First Amendment, where the Court headed in his direction over time.
Toobin points this out in his second paragraph, thus killing his thesis while still a-borning.
Still worth a read…
Its kind of sad that a good portion of his reasoning in striking down various liberal laws is: you know who else wanted gun control?!?!
But its nice to see someone take up the argument raised in the book Strange Justice that none of the evidence from the Hill-Thomas hearings and nothing that’s come up since really backs up Thomas’ side of the story.
Sounds like a nice fluff exercise for Thomas. I’m sorry but there is no way I can see him as ‘the intellectual center of the current Court’.
It doesn’t appear that Harry Reid agrees with Jeffery Toobin.
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday had harsh words for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
When asked to comment on Thomas as a possible replacement for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Reid told NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.
“I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don’t think that he’s done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.”
Perhaps if Thomas was white Reid would have a higher opinion of his legal abilities.
I always thought of Thomas as The Revenge of Bork.
@jwest: Trolling a little early are we? Sucks to be you.
@Ian: “but for the Tea Party, and for Thomas, small government is a constitutional command.” lol
Small government for _those_ people. Unlimited police powers?, medicare for old and whites?, no problem with that kind of big government.
The real story here is the Federalist Society and its success at getting wildly partisan judges on the bench.
For decades, Thomas’ role has been to openly state the FedSoc rationale for, and intention to, overturn large chunks of what the rest of us only imagine is settled law decided since FDR started appointing justices. So sure, early on, before the FedSoc had managed to get so many of its stooges on the bench, Thomas could be written off as the crazy uncle you kept in the basement. Now he’s some kind of prophet.
That’s the real story here. The time spent talking about his wife’s political activity, or his behavior towards Anita Hill, is just wasted effort, beside the point. This man’s relationship with women is not the main reason no Democrat should have even thought about considering letting him on the bench — him or Scalia, Roberts, or Alito. They’re FedSoc stooges, publicly committed to overturning vast stretches of what the rest of us fools only imagine is settled law.
Nor do you score any points talking about the man’s intellectual isolation, his unwillingness and inability to engage with ideas and points of view other than his own. He and his movement don’t have to persuade anyone outside that movement, because they’ve organized things so that their side now has a majority on the courts.
So sure, compared to Obama in the inevitable comparison you almost have to make, the man’s an intellectual dwarf to Obama’s giant. But Thomas was smart enough to work for and with a movement, so he’s almost certainly going to end up accomplishing far more than Obama, who is theoretically the organization-is-everything guy, but who in practice urinates all over his own team at every opportunity.
“Trolling a little early are we?”
I tried to tell Mr. Koch that most liberals weren’t even awake at this hour, but he insisted we all put in the time anyway.
At least he had the weekend off. Thanks to UNIONS!
Don’t the paid trolls even understand how good they have it, thanks to the people they vilify?
Funny coincidence that.
Still no booming headlines from Cole about how we should get out of Libya. Hmmmm, wonder why.
@jwest: Well, if you actually are paid by Koch et al, that’s sad for them and they ought to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
If you aren’t, and you do this for free, well, that’s sad for you. That “Democrats are the real racists” thing is just sad even when presented with the verve and conviction so sadly lacking in this effort.
I’ll pass. Much as I find originalism and other form of literary necromancy fascinating, I suspect this is an attempt to read more into Thomas than there is. Which, when I think about it, is exactly what the constructionists do. Jackassery about jackassery.
Villago Delenda Est
It did not help that Weiner is a complete idiot who left himself open, through his own idiotic actions, to scandal which derailed momentum that was building on those very real conflicts of interest.
Thomas is the perfect embodiment of Bush dynasty cynicism. Choosing him to replace Marshall was really the perfect middle finger to everything Thurgood stood for. Sigh
@jwest: Oh, so you’re on a Koch payroll? Does he pay you by the word or by the comment? Do you have to write a specific number of comments each day or week? Did you get this gig through a temp agency or do you work for Mr. Koch in some other capacity too? (Inquiring minds want to know.)
Ah yes. The tea-party right wing that has spent years accusing Black Americans of claiming discrimination and victim hood jump up and down and scream racism the moment any one of their ideological soul mates is criticized.
It is shameless but then again, I have found most on the far right to have no shame whatsoever.
It should also be noted that conservative political correctness has caused a massive over representation of conservative Blacks in the corporate media.
Now proceed with the cries of racism.
One interesting aspect of the Thomas/Hill circus: I thought at the time, and stiLl think, that Thomas and his supporters beat the wrap in part by OVERSTATING the nature of the allegations against him. The tone they consistently took was, “How can you accuse an upstanding man like this with such a monstrous crime?” And by doing so, they somehow kind of raised the burden of proof and cast doubt on the accusation in the minds of enough people to get by. But of course, he was not accused of a monstrous crime. He was accused of being an immature, crude, boorish boss who inflicted frat humor on his subordinates–all too easy to believe of a young man who had skyrocketed up, with little apparent merit, because of political sponsorship. It was never clear that his behavior was serious or pervasive enough to be actionable (civil) sexual harassment, let alone a crime. But of course, that never should have been the question. The question should have been, does this guy show the mature judgment and wisdom we want in an SJ justice? That question was successfuly drowned out in all the noise. As a one-time criminal defense lawyer, I have to admire the tactics and technique. They’re better at this stuff than we are.
The court has become more conservative, but Thomas is just as much an extremist as he’s always been. Many of his opinions on controversial issues remain lonely outliers. His philosophy hasn’t even succeeded in persuading Scalia, let alone the entire conservative wing of the court, so I really don’t get where Toobin is coming from.
@Unabogie: It was calling Senator Reid a racist that got me. I mean, he isn’t my favorite Majority Leader, he’s too milqutoast if you know what I mean. I’d really prefer Senator Franken to lead, but I know he doesn’t have the senority.
Still….there are so many good options to troll us libs. Going for the completely stupid just shows they aren’t even trying.
I always wonder how you reconcile an 18th or 17th century white guys views, with regards to minority rights and women’s rights, with the modern day view of these things.
These are people, after all, who would’ve happily bought and sold Thomas for what they felt he was worth.
Something has to give between original intent and modern values, with regards to religious tolerance and rights for non-white men.
If you’re going back to colonial New England to guidance on parenting, you might as well burn the “slutty” 13 year old girl down the street as a witch…unless I’m missing something about how we’ve changed our views on the parent-child relationship in 400 years…
@ Villago Delenda Est
I will grant you Weiner’s personal failings but how does that some how let a moral leper like Thomas off the hook for his pay-to-play conflicts of interest? That sort of personality-driven narrative is really a big problem in our society, i.e. oh, well Weiner is a big perv so what he was trying to prove about Thomas is not worth pursuing. Or maybe the Dems are just scared to pick up the ball Weiner dropped for fear of getting Breitbarted as well.
Just some comments regarding the highlighted bits:
Self Loathing GHWB Affirmative Action Pick.
Pulling Up the Ladder After Reaching the Top.
I hate that guy more now than I ever thought possible.
I would wager that if GHWB were to attend a SCOTUS hearing, Clarence would be waiting out front for Bush’s arrival to valet park his car.
That article disgusted me.
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
I bet he was a shitty b-ball player too.
Apparently working a Texas oilfield isn’t the rough-and-tumble, rugged-individualist, wildcatter experience it once was. Now it’s all door-to-door laundry, satellite cable, and gourmet meals prepared by top chefs. You’ve gone soft, America.
The damage that the Federalist Society has inflicted on our supposed independent judicial branch has me hoping that I live long enough to see this country come to it’s senses and reverse this trend. Should that come to pass, I would love to see Senate hearings that begin with one question to each witness: “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society?”
I can’t quite make out this picture. Who are these people (in a muslim country) thanking? Can anyone tell me? Surely not western leaders.
Colonel John Wrong Way Cole said Libya was Obama’s Iraq. Surely he can’t be wrong. After all he was in the military once so that makes him an expert.
btw, they read from right to left in that part of the world. So in order of importance….well you figure it out.
I read the article, and Toobin is being generous with his praise of Thomas’ leadership. Most liberals ignore his effectiveness on the court, so it was a thought-provoking article. I think Thomas is more reactionary and vindictive than the principled Originalist that Toobin portrays, but it’s worthwhile to hear different perspectives.
One thing from the article haunts me, though. What did James Madison think about violent video games?
Even when I was a Republican I loathed Thomas. And El Rushbo. You gotta give me that.
Gawd what a jackass Thomas is.
In other other words, WE have to be humble enough to say THOSE OTHER GUYS got it wrong.
In other words, he’s a pompous jackass who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks because he is so special and brilliant.
That’s how you interpret scripture, not a governmental document. The number of supposedly intelligent people who don’t seem to grasp this difference is astonishing.
I started with Mr. Koch years ago as a crew member aboard one of his yachts, the “Human Capital”. It’s still one of largest (318 ft.) oar-powered private yachts in the world. I coordinated the work release program with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections which provided the 200 rowers and played the CD that beat cadence as they were working. Of course, during parties and other public events we had an actual drummer do that.
Oar power is best for hunting baby seals, as they can pick up the vibration of marine engines.
Clarence Thomas is three-fifths of a fine originalist. What? Too soon?
@Cabin boy first class jwest:
The Captain and the Cabin Boy loved each other like a brother. Every evening after supper they doodle-ooped to one another
Villago Delenda Est
It doesn’t let Thomas off the hook, but it makes following through a whole lot more difficult, especially with the media we’ve got right now. The distraction of Weiner’s fuckup killed the momentum on doing something about Thomas.
OK, I know you’re joking, but let me say anyway because some people mean that: I don’t fucking care what James Madison would think about violent video games. He’s not here; we are.
This business of going through the Founders’ papers to try to figure out what they would have us do is more akin to religion, and a particularly fucked-up one at that, than any system of human government. Similarly, Clarence Thomas has contempt for people who invoke recent history to argue that the effect of a law would be contrary to the values of the Constitution, but he’ll stick his nose into a survey of 18th-century child-rearing, which last I checked wasn’t in the Constitution, in order to rule on something.
He’s fucked up and stupid. At best.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Pay no attention to that Toobin fellow! The man is a lopsided Pepsi drinker – need I say more? I AM THE GREATEST! Also too, SUPER COKE! rules.
it was an excellent read. thank you
Very informative article, and a nice complement to the piece on Thomas that ABL posted here a couple of months back. But it depressed the heck out of me.
Toobin: “This case marked the début of Thomas’s absolutist position on free-speech issues.”
I guess that doesn’t count his support of the violent video game ban. Because you can be an absolutist but still believe Big Government should get involved in video game purchases based on content.
Here’s what I want to know. Where would he have had to attend law school in order for him to get a job after graduation? Howard University comes to mind. Isn’t that the mostly black school? Do they have a law program? And if the “affirmative action” of Yale was so pernicious, why did he decide to go there in the first place?
I bet he didn’t get a job because he came across as the bigoted, close-minded reactionary he is.
@pat: The irony of Thomas’s scorn for affirmative action and Yale is that Thomas got a job because he went to Yale. I mean, does he really think he would have even gotten a sniff of the EEOC, let alone SCOTUS, if he had gone to say, Creighton? Toobin’s article (like the bulk of Thomas’s legal philosphy) is post-hoc rationalization. The silent, sullen Thomas has never impressed anybody with his intellectual firepower or legal reasoning.
This article is a classic example of the unfortunate insider mentality that pervades all of our institutions. Even though a fair reading of the piece would have to acknowledge it is by no means a particularly positive description of Thomas, still Toobin goes out of his way to avoid the very clear evidence of Thomas’s corruption.
Toobin begins the piece by writing that Thomas had to restate “several” years of financial disclosure forms. In fact Thomas had to restate 13 years of disclosure. I know no-one who would characterize 13 as several. Toobin also chooses not to mention the sums involved, but the dollar amount for 2003-2007 alone was $700,000.
Even when are elites appear to be on different sides politically they still cannot or will not betray their class loyalty to each other.
Paul in KY
@kindness: Seniority doesn’t matter. All you need is the votes. LBJ certainly wasn’t a senior member of the Senate when he was elected Majority Leader.
Al Franken as Majority Leader would be a wet dream for me.
Paul in KY
@joeyess: I’m gonna assume the weirdo at Yale who happened to be black had some rough times. Most of them probably related to his personality.
Paul in KY
@jwest: Well played.