Project 21 New Visions

 

Dutch Martin

Liberals are Doubting Thomas for No Real Reason


by Darryn "Dutch" Martin

In the eyes of retired Brooklyn Law School professor Henry Mark Holzer, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is one of the most brilliant legal minds to ever sit on the federal bench.

It's not a feeling shared by liberal academics, the mainstream media or the modern civil rights establishment.  They've spent over 15 years dragging the black conservative's name through the mud.

A big reason why Justice Thomas enrages them seems to be because he bases his decisions on the original text of our Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers.  He doesn't invent new rights.

Isn't this what a good judge is supposed to do?

Professor Holzer thinks so.  In his new book, The Supreme Court Opinions of Clarence Thomas, 1991-2006 (McFarland and Company, Inc, 2007), Holzer analyzes the nearly 350 opinions Justice Thomas wrote during that time to prove the genius of the jurist's logic.

Professor Holzer details Justice Thomas's jurisprudence on separation of powers, federalism and judicial review as well as issues including abortion, racial preferences, the death penalty and prisoners' rights.  Holzer notes Justice Thomas methodically studies the Constitution and relevant statutes when rendering decisions, as well as consulting founding documents, historical sources and principles of natural law.

Justice Thomas, however, holds the concept of constitutional originalism in highest esteem.  This is contrary to many of his colleagues who envision a "Living Constitution" where rights can be created by supposing what the Founding Fathers would have done for specialized situations.  This is how newfound rights such as the right to privacy cited by homosexuals and abortion supporters, race preferences and the abuse of eminent domain allowing governments to confiscate private property for reasons other than the public good were created.

Holzer also points out that Justice Thomas pulls no punches when dealing with colleagues who embrace incongruous and constitutionally-groundless views.

For example, when discussing religious freedom with regard to a college that refused to allow student activity fees to fund a religious student magazine, Justice Thomas wrote:

Thus, history provides an answer for the constitutional question posed by this case... The dissent identifies no evidence that the Framers intended to disable religious entities from participating on neutral terms in evenhanded government programs. [Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia] (emphasis added)

Dealing with federal power as it relates to the Commerce Clause and gun rights, Justice Thomas wrote:

The Court has encouraged the Federal Government to persist in its view that the [Tenth Amendment]'s Commerce Clause has virtually no limits.  Until this Court replaces its Commerce Clause jurisprudence with a standard more consistent with the original understanding, we will continue to see Congress appropriating state... powers under the guise of regulating commerce.  [United States v. Lopez]

Holzer says no sitting justice is a bigger champion of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech as Justice Thomas, such as when dealing with advertising restrictions:

I do not see a philosophical or historical basis for asserting that "commercial" speech is of "lower value" than "noncommercial" speech.  Indeed, some historical materials suggest to the contrary. [44 Liquormart v. Rhode Island]

Professor Holzer felt the book was necessary because Justice Thomas is so often the victim of knee-jerk criticism.  Since the political left, particularly the civil rights establishment, personally attacks Justice Thomas instead of trying to better understand what makes him tick only underscores the contention that his critics are intellectually incapable of debating the merits of - or defending their positions on - important legal and public policy issues with those with whom they disagree.  Quite simply, these people can't hold a candle to Justice Thomas in an all-out, bare-knuckle debate on constitutional law, so they attack, slander and malign he who dares to challenge the foundations of their liberal orthodoxy.

As Professor Holzer shows in his new book, Justice Clarence Thomas is a scholar, gentleman and intellectual heavyweight faithful to our Constitution and deserving of his Supreme Court seat.

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Darryn "Dutch" Martin is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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