Friday, March 04, 2011

Clarence Thomas’ Silence Revealed

Clarence Thomas owns the modern-day record for a Supreme Court Justice not saying a peep, while doing their job. Five years! Nothing to say in five years? What is up with that?

To my thinking, Thomas achieved his spot on the bench fair and square - he was appointed. All that was required was that senior Bush, ‘like’ him, and he did. He needed confirmation, and he was. So that’s that – end of story. Nonetheless, Thomas has helped keep controversy of his nomination alive, mostly through his and his wife’s ineptness, and not being willing to let go of the past. We now hear that he failed to disclose his wife’s non-investment income for the past six years! Clarence please!

Now, the question on the federal forms that all justices must annually complete is not so tough. It comes in the form of a check box next to “Spouse’s Non-Investment Income”. Thomas repeatedly marked “None” when, in fact, his wife took in over $700,000 from her conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation. He says he did not understand the question. Please (again). Call me a smart-butt, but it seems that in hiding behind such an implausible excuse, he is re-making the case for himself as the 'affirmative action justice', or a really bad liar. For God’s sake man, it’s a check box!!!

As for his silence on the bench, it strikes me that an ambitious man who relishes a position of which he has arguable business, has two problems. On one hand, he runs the risk that his character may someday let him down (as it has in the past), illuminated in the case of lying on disclosure forms, perhaps to avoid more serious conflict-of-interest allegations. On the other hand, he also runs the risk of revealing that his brain lacks the horsepower for the job (Peter principle). In each scenario, even poor counsel would advise him to, “keep your mouth shut and hope they don’t notice”. Viola! Silence, with no end in sight.

James C. Collier


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a.eye said...

Not liking Justice Thomas is one thing, but to address things he has done and ignore the others on the bench is a fallacy.

Thomas has recused him self from several cases, though Scalia, Renquist and others have not done so in cases where they had severe conflicts. He has not sat in several opinions (more than the other judges) because he understood that he had conflicts of interest.

And most judges do not have to recuse themselves. It is not required.

James C. Collier said...

We can speculate all we want on the motivations that drove Thomas to lie on the disclosure forms, but what really matters is that he lied, an now offers ignorance as his excuse. Pointing to the behavior of others that is immaterial to the legal requirement facing Thomas is the fallacy. You misuse the term, sir.

Matt said...

I see little in his conduct that would truly suggest that he lacks the mental horsepower for the job. The man has a clear and unique judicial philosophy. I've read several of his solitarily dissenting opinions, and he engages in lines of argumentation that aren't standard either in the right or the left bloc of the court. Who's writing these? Law clerks, who tend to regurgitate conventional wisdom unless specifically directed to do otherwise certainly aren't. The man is an original thinker, a sui generis. He's also emotionally disturbed, but who cares? There's a reason why the SC is an appointed position, right?

Too Tall Jones said...

Aside from his blunder at full disclosure, methinks Thomas' silence is a masterful stroke of psychological warfare. Knowing his detractors will dismiss and minimize whatever he does, such as the charge that he is a "clone of Scalia", his silence is a defiant gauntlet thrown down, that sends his enemies into paroxysms of "analysis." I can see Thomas smiling as he reads the latest screed from Salon or the NYT. He is in essence, "messing with their minds", forcing them to react to his play, just as some black cats do by giving their white girlfriends a long, lingering kiss, when he perceives stares by people that feel over and above normal curiosity (or indifference).