Friday, March 9, 2012

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s Rant in Businessweek Shows Why He is Not Qualified to be on the Supreme Court

No, We Don’t Know What He is Qualified For – But It’s Not Being a Judge

Businessweek magazine devotes the last page in its issues to reporting verbatim the thoughts of prominent business people and political figures.  This week they turn the page over to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  It is a revealing story, and probably does not reveal what Justice Thomas wanted revealed. 

The main topic for Mr. Thomas is Affirmative Action.  Affirmative Action programs were designed to remediate some of the effects of decades of racism and prejudice against minorities.  Here is the incoherent thoughts of the Justice on the subject. get into platitudes about who’s for affirmative action or who’s against it, and we do nothing to fix the real problems. So many of our conversations have been dishonest. We talk about civil rights. I’ve got the right to play the piano. I don’t know how to play a note. So what good is a piano? You need a way to access [a given] right. We play to these stereotypes, instead of treating people as individuals. 

Yes, you are reading that correctly.  The Justice equates civil rights with playing the piano.  And here is what he says about men and women who are the beneficiaries of attempts to erase the ugly results of prejudice.

You can take kids who want to work hard and put too much on them too soon. And then we blame them if they don’t succeed.

and no, no one understands what that means or what it says that is relevant.

Here is an interesting note from the Justice.

I looked up at the beginning of this term and realized that only two members of the court had been there longer than I’ve been there. 

As a senior member of the Court Mr. Thomas should be writing major opinions.  But The Dismal Political Economist follows the Court closely, and for over 20 years Mr. Thomas has never, ever written a major majority opinion.  It is obvious that there is an unwritten and unspoken (well maybe even spoken and written) agreement in the Court that this man is never to be given the authorship of a major legal opinion.  It is obvious that on both the right and the left in the Court, the opinion is that Mr. Thomas is just not capable.

Justice Thomas sits through oral arguments and does not ask questions, unlike all of the other Justices.  Some think that this is because he is disinterested, others say he lacks even the basic legal insight to ask questions.  Both thoughts are probably correct, but the real reason is likely that Justice Thomas has already made up his mind on a case, based on his own personal beliefs and independent of the law.

The major characteristic of Mr. Thomas is bitterness.  His railings against Affirmative Action must be viewed in the light of his career.  All of his adult life Mr. Thomas has been the beneficiary of preferential treatment because of his race.  He was appointed to judgeships by Republicans looking for an African American Conservative, and had he not been an African American his career most likely would have been as lawyer in a not very prestigious law firm, where he would have spent his life trying and failing to make Partner.

Deep down Mr. Thomas may know all of this, and resent the fact that his success has come only from special treatment.  But he knows he is also too weak to turn down the life of a Supreme Court Justice, even though he recognizes that he is not qualified to be there.  That knowledge would make anyone bitter.


  1. What a terribly racist rant on your part. Shame.

  2. What a completely accurate portrayal. He is 110% incompetent. He sits like a lunp on a log, because he is too stupid to engage the process. He has NO experience a judge. The newest judge, Sonia Sotomayor asked more questions on her first day, that this idiot ever has, in his entire career. He is an embarrasement to himself, and the nation. He is incompetent. He needs to resign today.