Aug 23, 2004

The Elections and the Supreme Court

As a prospective Law Student (took the LSAT in 1998, and still waiting for the right moment) the question of who will replace retiring Supreme Court justices is of paramount importance to me. This piece in the Mother Jones Blog about Justice Clarence Thomas is just creepy. To quote from it:

Jonathan Ringel has just noticed a frightening little tidbit in Thomas' new biography:

[The most noteworthy part of the book is] a comment from Justice Antonin Scalia, whom critics have suggested is Thomas' ideological guide on the high court.

Thomas, says Scalia, "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period."

"If a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let's get it right," says Scalia. "I wouldn't do that."

It's worth spelling out how extreme this is. Most liberals probably assume that a Bush-appointed Supreme Court could only go so far in dismantling the existing legal order. After all, they still have to respect legal precedents, don't they? But according to Scalia, Thomas doesn't feel bound at all by past court decisions.

So that means, Thomas doesn't really care about what is on the books. If he doesn't agree with it, or if he believes that it's written poorly, it's open season to change it, regardless of whether there has been any legislative amendment or action to do so. I thought that conservatives were more strict about the interpretation of the constitution and laws on the books. Apparently not. Thomas is more a radical than most of the judges that have been labeled activist judges in the past. He must be neutralized.

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