« Wanted: Some Historical Perspective on Signing Statements | Main | Goss Resigns »

May 05, 2006

Justice Thomas

Thomas Sowell has written two very nice tributes to Clarence Thomas, my favorite SC Justice here and here. Sowell deftly explains all the reasons I admire Justice Thomas:

Anyone who takes the trouble to read the Supreme Court opinions of Justice Clarence Thomas will see a very different, and much more intellectually formidable, mind at work than what they might expect from reading media attempts to denigrate Justice Thomas.

One of the most gross distortions occurred early in Justice Thomas' career, when he refused to declare it a violation of the constitution when prison guards beat a handcuffed prisoner. He was called "the youngest and cruelest justice" in the media because he did not go along with others on the Supreme Court who considered that a violation of the 8th Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."

What Justice Thomas understood, that the media either didn't understand or didn't want to understand, was that everything that is wrong, or even illegal, is not automatically a violation of the constitution.

It is not unconstitutional to assassinate the President of the United States. For most of our history, it was not even a federal crime.

That is why Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of the Dallas police, instead of the FBI. Oswald had violated no federal law when he shot President Kennedy.

Justice Thomas did not for one moment deny that the beaten prisoner had a right to take legal action against the guards who beat him. He even suggested that there were other laws, and perhaps other provisions of the constitution, that the prisoner could use, but that the 8th Amendment did not apply.

Why not? Because the word "punishment" in the constitution referred to "the penalty imposed for the commission of a crime," Justice Thomas pointed out. Therefore "judges or juries -- not jailers -- impose 'punishment.'"

It is this careful, thorough, and above all restrained approach: saying what the law is, not trying to twist the law or stretch the application of law to fact to bring about some desired outcome, that I so admire in him.

At any rate, two good reads.

Posted by Cassandra at May 5, 2006 09:22 AM


Did you ever notice that you never see Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell in the same room together?

Clarence Thomas Sowell?!

Posted by: camojack at May 5, 2006 10:36 AM

Just dropped in, OT, to congratulate you on your BIG win at the Watcher of Weasels. You won by a country mile.

(BTW, is the first comment supposed to mean that he thinks all black men look alike? Does he know how dissimilar their lives are??)

Posted by: dymphna at May 5, 2006 10:44 AM

I think he was just being snarky, especially knowing they're two of my favorite thinkers :)

And thanks - I didn't even realize I had a post in the running! I'm very honored. I see you won too!


Posted by: Cassandra at May 5, 2006 11:33 AM

BTW, is the first comment supposed to mean that he thinks all black men look alike? Does he know how dissimilar their lives are??
Posted by: dymphna at May 5, 2006 10:44 AM

Don't be silly, nympho...er, dymphna!!!
(Some Black men are bald; others ain't)

Posted by: camojack at May 6, 2006 02:21 PM

PS: I hope you don't take ANY of my prior comments on this thread seriously...because NONE of them were intended thataway.

Posted by: camojack at May 6, 2006 02:23 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)