by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Barone‘s latest Washington Examiner article dissects a recent New Yorker profile from Jeffrey Toobin on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As Barone notes, the article gives Thomas credit as being an influential constitutional scholar, not the mental midget many critics have portrayed him to be.
Thomas is the strongest originalist on the court, the justice who most consistently seeks to apply the provisions of the Constitution as they were originally understood.
This has led him to take positions, sometimes in lonely dissent, that most New Yorker readers abhor. The 18th century understanding of what constituted the “cruel and unusual punishment” banned by the Eighth Amendment is not widely shared these days on the Upper East Side of New York.
And Thomas’ interpretation that the three post-Civil War amendments ban all racial quotas and preferences is anathema to the university administrators and corporate apparatchiks who employ them every day.
They might, however, be embarrassed if they actually read the parts of his opinions where, in searing prose, he draws on his own experiences growing up in segregated Georgia and on his considerable knowledge of the history of oppression of black Americans.
And he brings up the embarrassing facts that the first gun control laws and limits on corporate campaign contributions were advanced by those who sought to deny rights to blacks.
Toobin’s article represents the end of the fashionable left’s attempt to portray Thomas as an intellectual lightweight. He admits that Thomas’ silence on the bench, while colleagues pepper lawyers with questions, doesn’t mean he’s stupid.
Instead he paints Thomas as a brilliant Svengali, ready to disregard precedent and — the president’s nightmare — overturn Obamacare.