September 30, 2007


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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was interviewed on 60 Minutes yesterday to promote his book, My Grandfather's Son, and he had some just odd things to say about his critics. When asked why there was so much controversy about his nomination to the highest court in the land, his answer: abortion. Huh? While he is correct that there was an overriding concern amongst Democrats of the time that a conservative majority would result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I think it's a vast oversimplification to put the focus solely on that.

But then again, Thomas has a habit of making strange oversimplifications and assertions. As Marty Kaplan recounts:

But no less an authority than arch-conservative fellow Associate Justice Antonin Scalia told Thomas' biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period." If you think nutcase is too strong a word to summarize that view, listen again to Scalia, as quoted in this Terry Gross interview with Jeff Toobin about his new Supreme Court book, The Nine:

TOOBIN: Clarence Thomas is not just the most conservative member of the Rehnquist court or the Roberts court. He's the most conservative justice to serve on the court since the 1930s. If you take what Thomas says seriously, if you read his opinions, particularly about issues like the scope of the federal government, he basically thinks that the entire work of the New Deal is unconstitutional. He really believes in a conception of the federal government that hasn't been supported by the justices since Franklin Roosevelt made his appointments to the court. You know, I went to a speech that Justice Scalia gave at a synagogue here in New York a couple of years ago, and someone asked him, `What's the difference between your judicial philosophy and Justice Thomas?' I thought a very good question. And Scalia talked for a while and he said, `Look, I'm a conservative. I'm a texturalist. I'm an originalist. But I'm not a nut.'

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