Monday, April 13, 2009

Clarence Thomas opens up....

Cthulhu save us!

From the N.Y. Times:
“Sometimes, when I get a little down,” Justice Thomas said wearily, he goes online. “I look up wonderful speeches, like speeches by Douglas MacArthur, to hear him give without a note that speech at West Point — ‘duty, honor, country.’ How can you not hear those words and not feel strongly about what we have?”
OK, so now everyone's in the military, eh?....
He continued: “Or how can you not reminisce about a childhood where you began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance as little kids lined up in the schoolyard and then marched in two by two with a flag and a crucifix in each classroom?”
Gotta love that authoritarian bent.
A favorite movie can be a comfort, too.

“I have on many occasions or a number of occasions when things were becoming particularly routine gone down to my basement to watch ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ” he said. “I can’t tell you why that particular movie, except we have it and it’s about something important in our lives — World War II.”
Yeah, nothing like Hollywood to portray a fictionalized account of WWII bravery and sacrifice. Yanks your heartstrings that Thomas couldn't fight in Vietnam.... Oh well, better luck next time, Clarence....
The event, on March 31, was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”

“I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”
Indeed. It is no doubt the gummint's duty to make sure we all do what we're told to do. That's it's job, nicht wahr?
He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.”
And welfare queens are owed Cadillacs. Or so goes the fairy-tale....
Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.

“I have to admit,” he said, “that I’m one of those people that still thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. What a device! And I have to admit that because I think that way, I like to load it. I like to look in and see how that dishes were magically cleaned.”
Simple things for simple minds. Thomas missed his calling as a bus boy, I guess.
He was asked how his religious faith influenced his work on the court.

“I think that it really gives content to the oath that you took,” Justice Thomas said. “You say, ‘so help me God.’ ”
Except the Constitution says:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
“There are some cases that will drive you to your knees,” he added. “In those moments you ask for strength and wisdom to have the right answer and the courage to stand up for it. Beyond that, it would be illegitimate, I think, and a violation of my oath to incorporate my religious beliefs into the decision-making process.”
Well, except requiring the Pledge of Allegiance with "under God" in it ... and various other sundries....
The questions from students were read to Justice Thomas, and the first one seemed to throw him off. “Since the Civil War, what has changed the way Americans view the Constitution the most and why?” an unidentified student asked.

Justice Thomas gave a rambling response, touching on the Fourteenth Amendment, the rights of freed slaves, the application of parts of the Bill of Rights to the states and Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court decision that endorsed the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
"[R]ambling". Kind of like not knowing the rationale in the biggest case of the previous term, BSA v. Dale (a case he had signed on to the majority opinion on).
I’m sure there are other things that have happened,” he said, wrapping up his answer. “So I would have to say just off the top of my head the Fourteenth Amendment. And I bet you someone’s going to hear that and say, well, no, it’s the dormant commerce clause or something.”

That was a curious aside. Few Americans could name the the dormant commerce clause, and it has no obvious connection to how popular views of the Constitution changed after the Civil War. “This job is easy for people who’ve never done it,” Justice Thomas said later. “What I have found in this job is they know more about it than I do, especially if they have the title, law professor.”
Yes, they do. If you find it hard, Clarence, resign!!!!!


At 5:38 AM, Blogger Cocktailhag said...

Great piece, Arne. I'm glad you couldn't resist it anu more than I could.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Joe said...

His remarks and mentality cannot be defended overall, but a few things come to mind.

(1) Loads of people in this country care too much about material things. Not only "welfare queens" care more about those things too much. We repeatedly hear 'can't prosecute torture, what about the economy!'

OTOH, things like a basic standard of living, health care, etc., yes, those are not like having nice cars.

(2) Many also ignore that as citizens we also have obligations. Again, to turn it around, the rule of law is an obligation, even if it is hard. Being an informed voter is an obligation of good citizenship etc.

(3) No religious tests does not mean there aren't "oaths" that public officials take. Jurors often say 'so help me God,' for instance. They can affirm, yes, but if those who say "God" have a reason to give it meaning.

(4) Someone who grew up in a shack might very well find the dishwasher amazing. I know people that don't have dishwashers myself.


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