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(22,386 posts)
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 01:35 PM Feb 2014

Clarence Thomasís Disgraceful Silence by Jeffrey Toobin / The New Yorker

As of this Saturday, February 22nd, eight years will have passed since Clarence Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.
This point was especially apparent on January 13th, when the Court considered the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, which raises important questions about the President’s ability to fill vacancies when the Senate is in recess. It was a superb argument—highly skilled lawyers engaging with eight inquisitive judges. The case also offered a kind of primer on the state of the Court in action, with Thomas’s colleagues best viewed in pairs.

Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The two oldest Justices (and the Court’s senior New Yorkers) usually jump in first with questions. Scalia, who is seventy-seven, often takes a barbed tone with the lawyers, and Ginsburg, who is eighty, is more polite, if no less insistent. Both of them set the tone with their ideologically opposed positions. They offer an early clue as to whether the Court will divide along familiar left-right grounds.
Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer. Oddly, these two, both Northern Californians, are starting to resemble each other physically in their eighth decades. Both sit in similar ways, hunched forward, with the fingers of their right hands splayed between forehead and bald head. Kennedy asks questions in a tone of grave concern; Breyer, in his twentieth year on the Court, is still having the time of his life. He laughs at all the jokes, especially his own.


As for Thomas, he is physically transformed from his infamous confirmation hearings, in 1991—a great deal grayer and heavier today, at the age of sixty-five. He also projects a different kind of silence than he did earlier in his tenure. In his first years on the Court, Thomas would rock forward, whisper comments about the lawyers to his neighbors Breyer and Kennedy, and generally look like he was acknowledging where he was. These days, Thomas only reclines; his leather chair is pitched so that he can stare at the ceiling, which he does at length. He strokes his chin. His eyelids look heavy. Every schoolteacher knows this look. It’s called “not paying attention.”


But the process works only if the Justices engage. The current Supreme Court is almost too ready to do so, and sometimes lawyers have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. In question-and-answer sessions at law schools, Thomas has said that his colleagues talk too much, that he wants to let the lawyers say their piece, and that the briefs tell him all he needs to know. But this—as his colleagues’ ability to provoke revealing exchanges demonstrates—is nonsense. Thomas is simply not doing his job.

By refusing to acknowledge the advocates or his fellow-Justices, Thomas treats them all with disrespect. It would be one thing if Thomas’s petulance reflected badly only on himself, which it did for the first few years of his ludicrous behavior. But at this point, eight years on, Thomas is demeaning the Court. Imagine, for a moment, if all nine Justices behaved as Thomas does on the bench. The public would rightly, and immediately, lose all faith in the Supreme Court. Instead, the public has lost, and should lose, any confidence it might have in Clarence Thomas.

To read the parts I had to snip out:
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Clarence Thomasís Disgraceful Silence by Jeffrey Toobin / The New Yorker (Original Post) Mira Feb 2014 OP
Thomas has to answer to his wife. If she won't approve of what he says, he remains quiet. nt TheBlackAdder Feb 2014 #1
Remember the Hearings warrant46 Feb 2014 #2
How is it possible that my respect for him continues to diminish further and further... hlthe2b Feb 2014 #3
You said it. Mira Feb 2014 #4
probably was told by h.w. just sit there and keep your mouth shut leftyohiolib Feb 2014 #5
Well Mira Feb 2014 #6
or just doesnt give a shit. h.w. put him there out of political pandering and i think that clown leftyohiolib Feb 2014 #7
But I REMEMBER vividly that Bush said that in choosing him Mira Feb 2014 #8
yea we read his lips that's how we know he was lying leftyohiolib Feb 2014 #10
+1 jsr Feb 2014 #9
Message auto-removed Name removed Feb 2014 #11
welcome to DU gopiscrap Feb 2014 #12


(2,205 posts)
2. Remember the Hearings
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 01:41 PM
Feb 2014

His A/K/A was Long Dong Silver Thomas


Daniel Arthur Mead (born April 20, 1960), known under the pseudonym Long Dong Silver, is a retired porn star. He received new fame in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate in 1991, as Anita Hill alleged that Thomas had mentioned to her that he was a viewer of Long Dong Silver's films


(103,332 posts)
3. How is it possible that my respect for him continues to diminish further and further...
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 01:41 PM
Feb 2014

when it started at NONE? Negative infinity, here we come...

He IS and always WAS a disgrace.

When he is dead, the floodgates will open with all the contemptuous stories justices and lawyers are too polite or too cowed to tell now. It would be impolite for me to say I look forward to reading/hearing those, now wouldn't it?


(22,386 posts)
6. Well
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 02:37 PM
Feb 2014

if that is so we'll be watching (or should I say listening) for Justice Thomas to open his mouth on the demise of George HWBush. He'll probably outlive him. Yet, he may miss the death because he himself is either asleep or catatonic.



(5,917 posts)
7. or just doesnt give a shit. h.w. put him there out of political pandering and i think that clown
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 02:43 PM
Feb 2014

thomas knows it


(22,386 posts)
8. But I REMEMBER vividly that Bush said that in choosing him
Fri Feb 21, 2014, 03:38 PM
Feb 2014

he was choosing the most qualified candidate. I watched every minute of the Anita Hill testimony and the hearings. What a disgrace it was!

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