The Uppity Justice
John Yoo for OpinionJournal offers a broad defense of Justice Clarence Thomas
. He reaffirms the view of court-watching lawyers that Thomas is an independent thinker and one of the sharpest and most internally consistent minds on the bench. Maureen Dowd for NYTimes has a somewhat different take
The frequent vitriolic criticism of Thomas is based in ideological difference, and often expressed through the nasty cultural frame of the "uppity black". With the publication of his memoir, an outpouring of ad hominem
grime has been meted out in the press, perhaps best exemplified by Dowd's column. She (like others) argues that someone who has used the ladder of Affirmative Action has no right to deny it to others. This line of reasoning is invidious. The implication is that he - as a successful black American - is beholden to the liberal establishment, and has no right to his own opinions.
If the education provided by Affirmative Action led a poor, black Georgian with a sharp mind to come to his own conclusions about the world, isn't that his right? Doesn't that mean Affirmative Action was successful? If, as liberals claim, one's views are largely formed by one's environment, then Thomas' views should be revered: after all, he's lived on both extremes.
Nor is he, as Dowd strongly implies, a favored household slave of the Bush family. Aside from the utter inappropriateness of the language Dowd uses, Thomas' Supreme Court position is guaranteed for life by the same Constitution he rigidly upholds. Had there been a quid-pro-quo for the Court's decision in Bush v. Gore (as Dowd also claims), wouldn't Thomas (or Scalia) have been elevated to Chief Justice?
Dowd believes that any black American should be enabled to participate actively in all areas of American politics - but only if his views align with hers.
Posted by Chops at October 9, 2007 11:18 AM
Sorry, Chops, but, your argument will not dissuade common sense. Common sense dictates that if one is helped by others to a position whereby they can return the favor, one has a moral obligation to return it. It is not a universally applicable maxim, as common sense also despises nepotism which is based on this maxim.
But, it is common sense perception, when party politics is removed, that if public funds and policy help elevate a person to a position to defend the availability of those funds and policy to aid others with similar needs, it is the morally obligatory thing to do.
Of course, Thomas has the right to think and act as his elevated position now affords him. But, he, nor his supporters, should expect Thomas to be loved and revered for turning his back on the very social policies that helped elevate him to his position. Anita Hill still stands as testament in many many American’s minds, to Thomas’ self-centered and determined perseverance to advance his own cause, others be damned.
These two aspects of Thomas’ career are eerily consistent with each other.
* First black Sec of State appointeted by a Rep Pres
* First black Supreme Court Judge appointeted by a Rep Pres
* Civil rights in the 50’s lead by a Rep Pres
* Emancipation Proclamation from a Rep Pres
Yet somehow it is the Rep keeping houseslaves.
What about Thurgood Marshall?
I believe you are correct, Marshall was the first.
I would like to expand your third point: “Civil rights in the 50’s lead by a republican president”. It was also championed and made possible by overwhelming republican support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 82% of all republicans voted for it while only 64% of all democrats voted for it. And a little known piece of trivia for you, AL GORE SR., Senator from Tennessee voted against it.
John Yoo. Ah yes. That fine student of the constitution who championed the concept of the “unitary executive.” Nice work there.
Yoo was a nobody who was shoved into prominence by the Neocons, cheifly because he was willing to promote an idea most Americans find reprehensible.
As for Thomas…
Maybe if asked an actual question during proceedings, you know, shared the brilliance of his incisive thought in public, rather than relying on clerks to do the writing for him in private, then maybe, just maybe, he might earn some respect.
Maybe if he did not let Scalia lead him around by the nose, that would help, too.
He is a weak judge, and sadly, he was nominated because he was both black and conservative, not because he was the most qualified for the job.
Correction, that should read : “Maybe if he asked an actual question…”
“unitary executive”??? I am not familiar with this, please expound.
I agree, if he was only asked relevant questions instead of being grilled for baseless charges brought by people with an agenda merely because he was dangerous. Dangerous as in the most dangerous of all blacks, a conservative. This could not be left to stand. Liberals do not like any prominent black that does not fit the template of victim.
As for him getting this nomination because he was black and conservative, not because he was the most qualified, I suppose Vader Ginsburg could not possibly have been nominated just because she was a woman and a liberal, right? I mean just because she is widely considered the least qualified justice ever to reach the bench should not be construed as anything wrong. You seem to like affirmative action only when it works to your benefit.
Once again your “comnon sense” defies logic.
“Common sense dictates that if one is helped by others to a position whereby they can return the favor, one has a moral obligation to return it. It is not a universally applicable maxim, as common sense also despises nepotism which is based on this maxim”
This maxim would have endless exceptions. What if the “help” provided was in itself immoral or illegal (and the case can be made that affirmative action is both), should the favor still be “returned”?
“”But, it is common sense perception, when party politics is removed, that if public funds and policy help elevate a person to a position to defend the availability of those funds and policy to aid others with similar needs, it is the morally obligatory thing to do.”
That person is “elevated” at the expense and detriment of another. So, lets end discrimination against someone because of the color of their skin by……discriminating against someone because of the color of their skin. Your common sense is in need of some common logic.
Isn’t Justice Thomas the perfect example of everything a Justice should be. He votes to protect the rights of government induced criminals while voting to create more government induced criminals.
Unitary executive: basically doing everything to make other branches afterthoughts. This is where you get the Bush administration frustrating subpeonas just about every time they’re given, authorizing warrantless wiretaps, making signing statements, basically bypassing as many checks and balances at possible. Proponents of this even consider the AUMF for the Iraq war a recognition of the president’s right to take this country to war, rather than a requirement.
In short, it’s everything that scares real conservatives and and most liberals about the Bush Administration.
And the guy who wrote the editorial? He’s one of the main architects of that.
It was also championed and made possible by overwhelming republican support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 82% of all republicans voted for it while only 64% of all democrats voted for it.
It was overwhelmingly championed by LBJ, who remarked that his signing the civil rights legislation would put the Democrats out of favor for the next 5 decades…time’s almost up!!
Almost all those Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) are now staunch Republicans…so, who are they, really???
Here is a wikipedia article on the “unitary executive. Taken to its extreme, it can be a prescription for dictatorship. The same article mentions Yoo:
“The Bush administration has interpreted the theory more expansively than previous administrations. As for what specific constitutional limitations on the judicial power President George W. Bush may have in mind, the argument used by the President and his supporters is widely regarded as consistent with legal positions promulgated by John Yoo, particularly as recorded in several of his legal memoranda while working at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel under Bush. Yoo’s positions include that the use of military force is, like presidential vetoes and pardons, an unreviewable matter. Yoo’s opinions are widely seen by legal scholars as controversial and contrary to most scholars’ understanding of the Constitution. Rejecting the applicability of the arguments previously stated in support of such views, many argue that these views seem to have little basis in either the text or the history of constitutional law and this is seen by many to lend further credence to the skepticism regarding the validity of the arguments.
The Yoo position is supported by David Addington, counsel to the Vice President, who advocates a New Paradigm, involving extreme flexibility of Presidential power.
President Bush has applied the theory of the “unitary executive” in a wide range of substantive issues, often issuing signing statements detailing how the executive branch will construe legislation. President Bush issued at least 435 signing statements in his first term alone - more than the combined number issued by all previous US presidents.”
Unlike Clarence Thomas, Ruth Ginsburg had a formidable resume before taking a position on the Supreme Court. She served for 13 years as a federal judge, and presented numberous cases to the Supreme Court, and more.
Thomas has a relatively weak resume for a Supreme Court Justice, and only served one year as a federal judge.
Since taking a position on the court, by any standard, the performance of Thomas is distinctly underwhelming.
Beirut Vet said: “This maxim would have endless exceptions.”
Duh! Isn’t that what I just alluded to? What part of my statement: “It is not a universally applicable maxim,” did you lack of reading comprehension not understand?
Vet said: “That person is “elevated” at the expense and detriment of another.”
Duh! Every decision government makes on ANYTHING is at the expense of someone somewhere.
Sorry, its your comments that defy logic.
Rachel said: “Almost all those Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) are now staunch Republicans…so, who are they, really?”
Bingo. If it weren’t for the Southern Democrat bigots joining the GOP in the 70’s, Reagan would likely never have been president in the 80’s, and Republicans would not have won Congressional majorities in the 90’s and early 00’s! But, by the 00’s, Republican politicians weren’t bigoted against color anymore, just poor people and the middle class. Interesting how those shifts come about as a result of perceived political correctness.
“Almost all those Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) are now staunch Republicans…so, who are they, really?”
You mean like Robert KKK Byrd, democrat?
“Duh! Every decision government makes on ANYTHING is at the expense of someone somewhere.”
This is my point and you are making it for me. Affirmative action just proves the MAXIM, if you want to screw something up, let the government do it. You cannot redress past injustices with more injustice.
“If it weren’t for the Southern Democrat bigots joining the GOP in the 70’s, Reagan would likely never have been president in the 80’s”
Great, another 4 years of Carter, the worst president in the last 100 years is just what we needed. Only God knows how screwed up the world would be if he had gotten a second term. You only need to look at how screwed up the world is now to see the impact he had with just one term.
Come on guys, get a grip on the conspiracy theories. We do not live in a dictatorship, nor do I see a trend that way. Signing statements, vetoes and pardons have always been a part of the presidency. Yes, W has had a plethora of signing statements (which do nothing to change the law being signed) but he has used less vetoes than any president I can remember. Besides, how do you propose he will continue this “dictatorship” on January 22, 2009?
Beirut Vet said: “This is my point and you are making it for me. Affirmative action just proves the MAXIM, if you want to screw something up, let the government do it. You cannot redress past injustices with more injustice.”
Sorry, I am not making your point. You are missing mine. Government is NECESSARY for 300 million people to live together in each other’s space. Government decisions at best will benefit most Americans while depriving the fewest. At worst, government decisions will harm most Americans and benefit only a few, Bill of Rights excepted of course.
Your argument is illogical. By your argument there should be NO government, because as you say: “if you want to screw something up, let the government do it.” Government gave women the vote. Government ended child labor exploitation. Government helps insure the safety of our investments on wall street and in banks. Government ended slavery and ended Jim Crow. Government built the Interstate Highway system with assistance from States. Government eradicated most child hood communicable diseases through public school inoculation programs in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Government turned back the Russian missiles headed to Cuba. Government paid for my college degree through the GI bill.
This illogical political sophistry of yours about government doesn’t jive with facts, history, or evidence. Government has accomplished great things for America and Americans but it is only as capable as its voters. If government acts corruptly, it is because the voters tolerate it. If government acts responsibly, it is because voters demand it, and don’t reelect irresponsible incumbents.
The best of actions by government for the nation and people’s greatest benefit will still affect some stakeholders negatively. That is not a rational argument for dispensing with government or, for government not attempting to govern for greater good of the nation and its people.
In my view, John Yoo is a dangerous psychopath who aided and abetted Bush in destroying the Constitution, and in becoming the monstrous, torturing dictator he has become.
As for Thomas, I think he’s a nutcase too. He has certainly proven with his recent comments and interviews following the release of his book that he is so utterly partisan and filled with rage, he should clearly not be allowed to remain a Supreme Court Justice.
Just my honest opinions.
Beirut Vet says
“Great, another 4 years of Carter, the worst president in the last 100 years is just what we needed.”
You must be forgetting our current incompetent administration, W has to be the worst ever.
Carter didnt cause OPEC and the oil price increases that lead to the problems during the Carter years.
Stop reading things into my comments that are not there. I never said get rid of all government. I merely imply that government governs best when it governs least. and again, you are swerving off topic and my comments, probably because they are too accurate. Government cannot solve racial inequities, especially with more racial inequities. Address this comment if you can. (but logically you cannot)
” Government gave women the vote. Government ended child labor exploitation. Government helps insure the safety of our investments on wall street and in banks. Government ended slavery and ended Jim Crow. “
Maybe you didn’t notice but government was the cause of these problems in the first place.
“Government has accomplished great things for America and Americans but it is only as capable as its voters. If government acts corruptly, it is because the voters tolerate it. If government acts responsibly, it is because voters demand it, and don’t reelect irresponsible incumbents.”
If you want to continue to tilt at incumbent windmills, be my guest. But please do it on your web site for those that care to see it, and stop twisting arguments just so you can get on that soapbox. No one ever said get rid of government, that you even mentioned it proves you read too much between the lines, especially when there is nothing there.
WOW! I must have missed the segment on CNN where they showed the constitution in taters.
“dangerous psychopath, montrous torturing dictator, nutcase”.
“has certainly proven with his recent comments and interviews following the release of his book that he is so utterly partisan and filled with rage”
your “utterly partisan and filled with rage” comment certainly applies, but not to Bush. Look at your last post and tell me you are not guilty of this in spades.
And speaking of murderous torturing dictators, how about commenting on real ones like Fidel, Hugo and Mamoud. Unless you feel that they are worthy of praise, as is the case with most left wingers.
No, he was just responsible for the first islamic fascist terror sponsoring state that has given us such splendid orgs as hamas and hezbolah. He also laid the ground work for the taliban in Afghanistan. Look at the problems in the middle east and almost all of them can be traced back to Jimmy Carter and his disasterous foreign bumbling.
Beirut Vet wasnt the repub god reagan president in 1980 and wasnt it reagans CIA that sent arms to OBL and the gang to fight the Soviets and isnt that the origins of the Taliban. Why would you blame Carter for that?
All cases that come to the supreme court have two sides that can be articulated. Thomas votes yes or no. This defense of him is an article attributing the articulated positions of one side of the case to Thomas though this level of thoughtfulness is not apparent when observing him in action. The article is a smokescreen.
He is a big boy and should defend himself.
Read your history, I am not going to do your homework for you.
“He also laid the ground work for the taliban in Afghanistan. Look at the problems in the middle east and almost all of them can be traced back to Jimmy Carter and his disasterous foreign bumbling.”
While outside the scope of this thread, I just cannot let inaccuracies like this go unchallenged.
I think you are entitled to your own opinion, but you might want to check the facts you base them on.
“The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on 23 January 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region.”
You seem to blame all this on the Camp David Accords.
I would blame the situation in Iran that Carter inherited on every President that supported the Shah prior to Carter. His policy of no negotiation with “terrorists” after the takeover in Iran was consistent with the policy of every other country on the planet at the time.
It was Reagan that really kicked out the jams with the support of the Taliban, and Osama. It was Reagan that wimped out in Lebanon. It was Reagan that sent missiles to Iran during the Iran/Iraq war.
It was the Bush Sr. Administration that told Saddam we wouldn’t be bothered with his invasion of Kuwait before we told him that we would.
Where again does Carter fit in with all this?
I believe that while Carter isn’t totally blameless, there are other administrations far more culpable for the situation we find ourselves in.
Are you kidding me? This is what you offer as proof of rage and unfitness? Robert Stien? Robert Reich? The uninformed opinion of some of his detractors? And of course, they do not have an agenda.
And the no name, know nothing from the San Fransisco Chronicle was laughable at best. This is what passes for an accurate summation for you? A bunch of ramblings with no supporting documentation. Believe what you want, I preffer to think for myself.
John Yoo also facilitated the administration’s defining away torture. The man is a despicable sophist who will make arguments for the devil if he thinks it will help his side win.
Are you kidding me?”
You? Not at all. But then, I wasn’t posting those links for you.
“This is what you offer as proof of rage and unfitness? Robert Stien? Robert Reich?”
Uh huh. Because I totally agreed with what they wrote. You don’t have to.
“The uninformed opinion of some of his detractors?”
They’re not at all uninformed. Both of those guys are rather brilliant, actually. I suspect if you read something besides rightwing blogs, you’d know that they’re both very highly respected people.
“And of course, they do not have an agenda.”
They stand on the left. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t right.
“And the no name, know nothing from the San Fransisco Chronicle”
Jon Carroll is very well known in the SF Bay Area.
One day I bet he’ll be almost as famous as the late Herb Caen was/is in these parts.
You probably never heard of him either, huh?
“was laughable at best.”
Yes, Jon Carroll is always laughable at his best! That’s because he’s actually a humorist. I guess you missed that?
“This is what passes for an accurate summation for you?”
Yes, while it was meant to be funny, I think it is also frighteningly accurate about what nutty neocons like John Yoo say and think.
“A bunch of ramblings with no supporting documentation.”
Humor doesn’t require documentation, only timing and the ability to turn a phrase. And yet, humor often has a way of cutting right through all the BS to poke it’s finger directly at the truth.
“Believe what you want,”
“I preffer to think for myself.”
So do I. But sometimes I agree with others so much that I’ll temporarily allow them to speak in my stead. Hence, my links.
BTW, My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Holy Awl of Truth. What’s yours?
Just because you agree with them, does not mean you, or they are right.
Just because they are “brilliant” (and the jury is still out on that) doesn’t mean they do not have an agenda.
Just because you think they are highly respected, doesn’t mean they are. Outside of extreme left wing politics, they are seen as the political hacks that they so obviously are.
“Jon Carroll is very well known in the SF Bay Area.
One day I bet he’ll be almost as famous as the late Herb Caen was/is in these parts”
Outside of the socially and politically dysfunctional enclave of San Francisco, neither one of these “humorists” as you call them are either known or humorous. The fact that they are from the land of Willie Brown, Gavin Newsome and Michael Savage says it all about their credibility to be criticizing someone else.
Most conspiracy theories are boring, desperate attempts to justify someones paranoia. “shred the constitution” , “dictatorship”, please. Spare us the affectations of the political dementia of these pundits who claim our rule of law is gasping for air.
Yes, humor doesn’t require documentation, but when it is offered as proof of something, you need to back it up with facts. You are obviously unable to do this. I am still waiting for proof of your claims about his anger and being unfit for the job. If in fact this were true, every democrat in the country would be calling for his impeachment. But this doesn’t seem to be the case…….outside of San Francisco.
“humor often has a way of cutting right through all the BS to poke it’s finger directly at the truth”
Still looking for you to point out the truth, hon. With, you know, something to back it up.
Oh, and I looked at your link to Unitarian Jihad. I implore anyone connected with its inception, PLEASE, seek professional help.
Heh. I see I’ve riled you up BV, and I find that very funny!
Oh how dare such as I enter this blog and put up links to opinions about Thomas’ pathethic and rage filled book written by an editor, author, publisher, media critic and journalism teacher on the one hand, and a Yale Law School graduate, renown lawyer, former Labor Secretary and university professor on the other! My trespassing with any opinions that might in any way disturb the batsh*t-angry swagger and show-boating of neoconservatism naturally elicited the bullying responses of the exact sort that were delivered above.
Not only did I expect such a hilarious response, but I knew that any sense of humor would be not be grasped — something which I must also admit I find hilariously funny. I mean, how many Rightwing comedians are there in America? Maybe a couple at best, and sadly, that is not some sort of a mysterious coincidence. So many on the right seem to need a nasty clown for smirks and grimaces — along the lines of Ann Coulter, for instance.
While I’m sure that the sensation of trying to antagonize and browbeat anyone who disagrees with your views is often savored, I’m happy to relate that rather than what is clearly being hoped for, I am instead highly amused at the sheer ease of being able to provoke this expected response!
Let’s see now.
A person shouldn’t be a judge because a woman accussed him of sexual harrassment, but a person can be President even though they are accussed of rape and sexual harrassment.
Yep, that is indeed highly amusing.
No Tim, all that is water under the bridge, and not why Thomas should no longer be allowed to keep his lifetime appointment as a Supreme Court Justice. The reason that Thomas should now be made to step down, is because with this book he wrote, he has totally removed all doubt that this is man who is capable of exercising the kind of judicial impartiality, self control and reasoning ability that must be expected of SC justices.
“Yep, that is indeed highly amusing.”
The blind defense of Thomas is not what I found so amusing in BV’s post. No what I found funny (not to mention typical) was the obvious anger, the lack of all sense of humor, and the repeated demands for documentation and proof — as if I needed them in order to be allowed to hold a different opinion from him (or her?) that were reflected in those comments.
Btw, it seems that someone who is as far on the right as Scalia thinks that Thomas is pretty far out there. And going back some years, others have also noticed a certain instability in Thomas, as well.
You came away with that belief of him after reading his book Adrienne?
I have not read the book yet, so I can’t give my opinion on it yet.
From the courts actions Thomas and Ginsberg have much in common in how they work, just on other ends of the spectrum. That lady is a nutjob who does not belong on any court.
I guess each of our bias shows there.
And I have no idea as to what kind of sense of humor BV has. But I do know that people who hold opinions as truths and refuse to acknowledge all facts contrary to their opinion, can be very frustrating.
I don’t need to read Thomas’ book. I know that what he has written is an angry screed because every single review that has been written about it thus far from the left, and from the right has talked about the fact that Thomas is still extremely angry, going on page after page over the supposedly “unfair” treatment he received during his confirmation hearings, attacking Anita Hill, and still calling it a modern day version of a “lynching”, in which white mobs came to string up him up only for being a black man who was engaging in sexual misconduct that was only perceived, but not real.
The fact that he is still nursing all this rage sixteen years after he was confirmed is NOT what one would (or should) expect from a justice sitting on the Supreme Court.
Besides, I know that Clarence Thomas was lying under oath sixteen years ago, and that he is still lying — because everything he has said simply doesn’t match the bulk of the evidence.
The reason I say this, is because I’ve read a couple of books on the subject that made this very clear to me. The first one was written by two Wall Street Journal reporters, and was called: ‘Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas’. I highly recommend it.
These authors combed meticulously through all the facts, and interviewed both male and female colleagues and friends of Thomas (who are named) and thoroughly confirm that he had a long prior history of private and public behavior that was consistent with what Anita Hill described to all of America.
Btw, what Hill described was also totally consistent with what Angela Wright, another former EEOC employee was subjected to from Thomas. Wright was a subpoenaed witness that was supposed to testify with even worse allegations of the same sort of treatment at the hearings, but after Thomas used the word “lynching” and scared the crap out of the Democrats, she was never called to appear. This is all recorded in detail in the book — you might want to read it yourself.
The other book I read was David Brock’s
“Blinded by the Right, The Conscience of an Ex Conservative” In that book, Brock did an about face on a book he had written for the GOP earlier called “The Real Anita Hill”. In “Blinded by the Right”, Brock admitted how he had lied and worked both publicly and behind the scenes for the GOP in order to protect Thomas and cover up his bad reputation.
Brock has since that time started the website Media Matters for America in order to expose the same kinds of lies and covert machinations that the right uses to constantly smear the left in the media. This is why that website is so deeply hated by so many of the wingnuts — Brock used to be part of their own slime machine and that drives them crazy.
PS. Make sure you read the second link above — it’s a link to a NYT article that came out just before the book was released.