Election 2016

Weekend Reading: Jeff Toobin: Clarence Thomas Has His Own Constitution

bradford-delong.comThe truth is that Thomas’s view of the Constitution is highly idiosyncratic. Indeed, one reason he wrote so many opinions (often solo dissents and concurrences) was that no other Justice, including Scalia, shared his views. Thomas is a great deal more conservative than his colleagues, and arguably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Supreme Court since the nineteen-thirties.

While some Justices are famous for seeking consensus with their colleagues, Thomas seems to go out of his way to find reasons to disagree—often in the most provocative ways. Take, for example, his solo dissent this year in Foster v. Chatman, in which all the other Justices joined Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.,’s opinion setting aside a death-penalty verdict in Georgia. Roberts said that records preserved by the prosecutors in that case showed egregious racial discrimination in jury selection. Prosecutors said one juror ‘represents Black,’ another note said ‘No Black church,’ and other notes identified black jurors as ‘B#1,’ ‘B#2,’ and ‘B#3,’ as well as notes with ‘N’ (for ‘no’) appearing next to the names of all black prospective jurors.

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