Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 25, 2007
LAW: Scalia on Thomas

Justice Scalia defends his colleague:

One of the most persistent media myths about Thomas is that he follows the intellectual lead of fellow conservative Scalia...

...Questioned about that view of Thomas, Scalia replied, "It's a slur on me as much as it is a slur on him - like I'm leading him by the nose... I don't huddle with Clarence and say, 'Clarence this is what we're going to do.'" The myth's persistence, Scalia said, is "either racist or it's political hatred."

H/T

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I recently had a chance to speak with Justice Thomas for about and hour and found him to be a really charming guy. He really likes college football. The total opposite of what I've read about him. One thing for sure is that he really dislikes the media and he isn't too fond of Harvard or Yale.

Posted by: pchuck at April 25, 2007 11:04 AM

The myth's persistence, Scalia said, is "either racist or it's political hatred."

It's also just ignorance. There was a study that looked at how often colleagues on the Court agree with each other, and Scalia and Thomas only ranked 7th.

The misperception also disregards the fact that the two do not have the same judicial philosophy as Thomas is an adherent of original intent, Scalia of meaning - not to mention that Thomas has just about no affinity whatsoever for stare decisis. Of course, considering that many people think that Scalia is a "strict constructionist" (despite the fact that he quite forcefully rejects this mode of interpretation), it just goes to show the depth of understanding out there in general.

Posted by: paul zummo at April 25, 2007 11:12 AM

My issue with both of them, is the same one as Ruth Bader Ginsberg. When you know ahead of time how someone is going to vote 99.9% of the time, we don't need a Supreme. Since the point of hearing a case is (or at least should be) that it is unique, and will make some point of law not yet met, or something earth shaking that a lower coourt hasn't adjuticated right, then they should never be that predictable. That's why I had such respect for Justice O'Connor. How is she going to vote? Depends on the case.

BTW, I've read somewhere that Thomas sways Scalia more than Scalia sways Thomas. I'll bet they are both charming. Most people are. It's arrogant asses like Renquist ("Don't you dare call me Judge, I am Justice Renquist") that are the exception.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 25, 2007 1:27 PM

"I'll bet they are both charming. Most people are. It's arrogant asses like Renquist ("Don't you dare call me Judge, I am Justice Renquist") that are the exception."

We run in different circles. I see 10 asses for every charmer.

There's no doubt race plays a factor. It's easier to dismiss Thomas as a Uncle Tom, fits the narritive. That he's not really Black etc.

Posted by: abe at April 25, 2007 3:04 PM

As a leftist who obsesses over the Supreme Court, here's what I think about Thomas:

From reading his opinions, it is clear that Thomas has a great legal mind. He was absolutely not qualified to serve on the Court in 1991 (too young and inexperienced) but he is qualified now. But he is also a reactionary with no regard for stare decisis (precedent) and is willing to overturn decades of caselaw on a dime. Funny how we did not see this coming when he testified before the Senate in 1991, yet he immediately establishes himself as a hard-right jurist who must have formulated these legal views years earlier. Why did he not share these views with the Senate?

For these reasons, I think that Thomas was quite dishonest in telling the Senate that he had no view on Roe v. Wade. One year later, he votes to overturn Roe v. Wade on the basis of fully thought out views on constitutional interpretation.

As an aside, do conservatives realize that Thomas believes that the Establishment Clause should not be binding on the states? This is a very radical proposition that Thomas outlined in dissent in the Newdow (flag Pledge) case. In Thomas' view, States can do whatever they want in terms of an establishment of religion, without Constitutional interference. Why do conservatives believe that their side of the aisle is more protective of religious freedoms when Thomas himself holds such a radical view on the Establishment Clause?

I agree that some will disparage Thomas on the basis of his race in calling him an Uncle Tom and claiming that he has sold out his race. That's nonsense. Judge the guy by his opinions. A recent interview with his biographers suggests that Thomas has told friends that he would be open to leaving the Court someday. May that day be soon.

Posted by: steve at April 25, 2007 3:06 PM

do conservatives realize that Thomas believes that the Establishment Clause should not be binding on the states? This is a very radical proposition t

It also happens to be the correct view as the First Amendment is applicable to the federal government, not the states. I, like Tomas, do not buy the incorporation doctrine. However, that ship has sailed.

Posted by: paul zummo at April 25, 2007 3:52 PM

Abe said, "But he is also a reactionary with no regard for stare decisis (precedent) and is willing to overturn decades of caselaw on a dime."

Stare decisis of and by itself is no reason to uphold anything. We'd have not gotten rid of Plessy vs. Ferguson, for example, even though it had been settled law for something like 60 years.

I respect Justice Thomas because he makes an effort to confine his rulings to original intent. That is a stare decisis approach that is defensible.

People who think that Supreme Court decisions should be made on any basis other than original intent do not understand why we have a Constitution in the first place. It is noteworthy that during the ratification debates, one of the reasons for reticence was the suspicion that in the end, the Constitution as written and ratified would be overturned by popular opinion and not by the amendment process. This fear has proven true many times with Roe v Wade being only one notable example.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at April 25, 2007 5:11 PM

"Abe said, "But he is also a reactionary with no regard for stare decisis (precedent) and is willing to overturn decades of caselaw on a dime." "

I don't recall saying that. And I concur with your second paragraph. I respect Thomas professionally and personally.

Posted by: abe at April 26, 2007 9:54 AM
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