April 19, 2012
Critics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas fault the court's most conservative member for not asking a single question of lawyers over the last few years. Timothy R. Johnson, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota noted that in the past 40 years, no other justice has gone an entire term, much less six, without speaking at least once during oral arguments before the Supreme Court. What does this say about the only Negro member of this esteemed body? Do we expect too much of Mr. Thomas because his skin is dark?
The question has been asked if Clarence Thomas should disqualify himself from any ruling on the Affordable Care Act because of his wife’s work as a conservative activist and lobbyist, where she explicitly fought for the repeal of “Obamacare.”
In my opinion, he has forgotten his roots and wavered in his belief that government governs best when closest to the people. Has not been at the forefront of civil rights issues, and he is not known for his colorful floor speeches and legal expertise. He is not recognized for his effectiveness, his knowledge or his hard work.
Because he has consistently voted against human rights and civil rights, a New York Times editorial called him the “cruelest” justice on the court. In five major cases involving civil rights and liberties, he voted against minorities every time, including rulings against job discrimination and voting rights. He’s only 63 years old and could conceivably spend another many more years on the Supreme Court.
Only time will tell how he will vote on the health care issue, although everyone is sure, but his silence before his peers on the High Court reminds me of Ralph Ellison’s book, ‘Invisible Man’.
A synopsis of Ralph Ellison’s book ‘Invisible Man’ state: In the beginning of the novel, the Invisible Man reflects back to his roots and what has come to define him over the years. This is the first mention of him as a traitor in society and he takes it in with many questions. As the book begins, the Invisible Man does not understand what is so 'wrong' about being the white man's favorite until he realizes at the end, that he has given up things in himself to just attempt to get to that point. At the close of the novel, the Invisible Man recognizes that by not being true to his heritage, race, and himself he is being a traitor and appeasing to the white men who had appeared to want something from him, when in reality they were only looking for their own personal gain.
"What is a traitor, Brother?" I asked, feeling an angry amusement as I counted on my fingers. "He was a man and a Negro; a man and a brother; a man and a traitor, as you say; then he was a dead man, and alive or dead he was a jam-full of contradictions. So full that he attracted half of Harlem to come out and stand in the sun in answer to our call. So what is a traitor?"
In the July 13, 2000 issue of the American, I wrote: I have not written much about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because he is berated and scolded quite sufficiently in the African-American press and the community at large. I haven’t thought it necessary until now. I actually was silent because I remember in 1979-81, when he was a Legislative assistant to Missouri Senator John Danforth, Justice Thomas was a regular guest on my radio talk show on KATZ-AM.
I was proud to know the man who went on to become the Chairman of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission. He used to call me regularly to give the community reports on the good things that he was doing in Washington for the citizens of Missouri and the nation. During his controversial Senate hearing for his Supreme Court nomination I became a little suspicious during the Anita Hill fiasco, but still sympathetic at what he described as a public lynching.
Since those times I have been repeatedly disappointed with his actions and decisions. His stand on affirmative action was what I thought was the last straw. I was wrong. Justice Clarence Thomas had the opportunity to stay the execution of Texas inmate Gary Graham, also known as Shaka Sankofa. His one vote could have saved the life of Graham for a few days, perhaps months or who knows. With another trial or hearing, maybe Graham would have been exonerated. It’s too late now. The vote was 5 to 4 against and Justice Thomas was one of the dissenters. I think I have said enough. What do you think?
And what about the Troy Anthony Davis case when the attorneys for Troy Davis filed an emergency appeal for a stay of execution at the Supreme Court at the 11th hour the entire world watched with baited breath for hours until we learned the fate of Mr. Davis in a case that has dominated the headlines.
Just after 10:20pm, the announcement came. The Supreme Court had denied a stay which could have saved Mr. Davis' life and the official Court order was just one sentence "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied."
On June 22, 2009 in an 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Justice Clarence Thomas cast the lone vote against a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. In his dissent, Thomas seemed to argue that the Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary because the explicit racial segregation of the Jim Crow era is gone. Thomas wrote. ''The violence, intimidation and subterfuge that led Congress to pass Section 5 and this court to uphold it no longer remain.''
I wonder if Justice Thomas has an opinion on the Voter ID controversy. I am certain that he has, and I know what it is. I think I have said enough about the silent and invisible Clarence Thomas.
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