Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Need No Rights

Last year, I noted that Justice Thomas had gone for 2 years & 144 cases without uttering a word during oral argument on the Court. Showing that his mind is still as closed as his mouth, he has yet to utter a word from the bench since February 22,2006.

However, he opened up not too long ago. Justice Thomas spoke with a number of high school students at a "Bill of Rights" Institute dinner, as the NYTimes notes, Reticent Justice Opens Up to a Group of Students:

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?”

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.”

Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.
Perhaps keeping quiet was a good idea.

In response to Adam Serwer's Twitter notation of Thomas' remark about too many rights ruining American, I tweeted in reply: "Thankfully, we have the Supreme Court to rid us of those excess rights."

Not only does Thomas have a dim view of the rights enumerated by the Bill of Rights, he also has a dark view of life as well. The Times piece included his remarks about his job on the court:
“I tend to be morose sometimes,” the justice said. “I am rounding the last turn for my 18th term on the court,” he added, but his work — “this endeavor,” he called it, “or, for some, an ordeal” — has not gotten easier. “That’s one thing about this job,” he said. “You get a little tired.”
As Mother Jones said, it almost makes you feel sorry for the guy, except for the fact that he's making decisions on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas Is One Seriously Troubled Dude:
The article makes clear, simply by quoting the famously taciturn Thomas, that he believes he is dumber than all the other justices and a good number of law professors, and retreats into isolation ('I tend to be morose sometimes') to nurse his wounds and brood. What an awful purgatory of an existence: to know you are a fraud, to know that everyone else knows you are a fraud, and yet to be locked into your job more or less for life. It's enough to ruin a person. And it appears it has.
Last month, Justice Ginsburg hinted that there could be a Supreme Court Opening "Soon". Court watchers speculated that Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and David Souter were the most likely to retire. However, based upon his distaste for his position on the court, maybe it's Thomas.

Wouldn't that be wonderful.

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