"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, December 06, 2004

Supreme Court Commentary: Clarence Thomas

Senator Harry Reid from Nevada told Tim Russert that Clarence Thomas is an embarrassment as a Supreme Court Justice. I'd love to know how he reaches that conclusion. He says Thomas' opinions are poorly written. Has he ever read one? I've certainly made my way through a few Thomas opinions and never saw the alleged lack of judicial intellect or temper. I suppose Earl Warren's opinions were better, the ones where he simply told his law clerks how he wanted the case to go and had them find a way to support it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hunter: Harry Reid was my senator when he lived in Nevada. He almost single-handidly put Sominex out of business.

Here would be my response to Harry Reid, if I were Tim Russert: "Since you have such a strong opinion of Justice Thomas, I'm sure that one of his many poorly-written opinions stand out. Perhaps you can share with our audience your assessment of one of those opinion and why you came the conclusion you did about its quality.

James DeLong said...

Supreme Court opinions are not a genre in which I wallow, but a few years back I read several of them relevant to issues of over-criminalization, and especially to the complicated distinctions between specific and general intent. I also delved into the law review literature.

At the conclusion of my research, I was moved to write Justice Thomas a note of appreciation, saying that in my view one of his opinions was a serious contribution to the legal literature on this complex topic.

This is not a compliment that one could pay to many of the members of the Supreme Court as currently consituted.

Reid's comment was a disgrace to the Senate, and one can only dream that the Dems will react as the Republicans reacted to the Trent Lott affair. Reid's conduct was far worse.

James V. DeLong
jdelong@pff.org