Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Free Thinker

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.

The 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 Maureen Dowd's NYTimes 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 allowed to participate actively in all areas of American politics - but only if their views agree.

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