A defense of Clarence Thomas from a Northwestern professor.


Even though there may be no denying that Thomas wouldn’t be where he was were he white, when you consider what he has done as a justice, a singular and worthy pattern of achievement appears. There can be no doubt that Thomas’s approach to the Constitution is the clearest contemporary example of originalism, a belief that the Constitution and its amendments ought to be interpreted only in the manner in which they were understood by those who framed and ratified them. Anything else, for Thomas, is judicial usurpation of the legislative role.

Many may not agree with this approach to the Constitution, but that’s no reason to call him an embarrassment to the court, as a senator from Nevada recently did.

Presser also laments the current lack of depth to Supreme Court reporting. Thomas apparently doesn’t follow the doctrine that previous Supreme Court rulings should be reviewed to help decide present day cases. This knowledge, revealed in a book by Thomas, was called a “bombshell” by the Washington Post. Apparently, many jurists feel this way. Besides, there have been many cases in which the Supreme Court got the original ruling dead wrong. Previous rulings often need to be ignored.

Senator Reid accused Thomas of poor writing. Presser speaks to that as well:

His opinions, compared to those of his colleagues, are more passionate, more free from jargon, more transparent, and more self-consciously linked, as Scott Gerber put it, with the first principles of our nation. In Foskett’s nice summary, Thomas “wants decisions that even a gas-station attendant could read and comprehend.”

Read the whole article. It’s interesting.