My main man Clarence Thomas has been a little cray-cray during the last ten years. He just stopped talking, kind of like Tommy. Many believe he became late Justice Antonin Scalia’s puppet. (By the way, potential conspiracy alert). But this has all changed. We are now pouring one out for Scalia, and Thomas is back. And he is inspiring everyone to buy guns.
In a recent Supreme Court case concerning a federal gun prohibition for domestic abusers, Thomas asked the question no one was thinking of: doesn’t this law infringe on a fundamental constitutional right? Aren’t people who commit domestic violence entitled to constitutional protections? Did anyone actually see Thomas drop the mic after asking assistant solicitor general Ilana Eisenstein several tough questions? Am I overusing rhetorical questions in this blog post?
Today, we delve into the mind of the man, the myth, the legend: Clarence Thomas, psychoanalyzed. I’d like to note that I definitely “tried” calling Mr. Thomas for comment. Or, I might have thought about calling him. I can’t remember. Regardless, no one from his office reached out to me, so I’m working off of the internet and my own theories.
Thus, we must ask: is Justice Clarence Thomas a robotic puppet? The answer, I think, is “no.”
Let’s start with Thomas’s confirmation hearings, which were pretty interesting. No other justice in U.S. history had to discuss, under oath, his taste in video pornography. His confirmation hearings featured graphic testimony by a former subordinate that accused him of sexual harassment. He was then confirmed by a narrow margin. There is a reason this guy is bitter, pouty and doesn’t want to talk. He has been through the ringer.
Thomas’s opinions show that he marches to the beat of his own drum. This drum often beats “I’m ridiculously conservative” over and over again. Thomas authored 36 opinions in a recent term. 18 were dissents; eight were solo dissents. Solo dissents are, well, an indication that Thomas is not a robotic puppet, but his own person.
Thomas does receive a ton of criticism. Some is merited, some is not. His intelligence is often questioned, but if you read enough of his work product, you will find that assessment is unsupportable. For the last ten years, he followed oral arguments carefully, if silently. His colleagues seem to like him.
Despite Thomas’s bad rap, he does see the light every now and then. In June 1992, Thomas joined the eight-justice majority in United States v. Fordice, holding that Mississippi had to try harder to eradicate all traces of state-created inequality in its public universities. Scalia was the lone dissenter. Robotic puppet? I think not.
Now, what is up with this recent outburst? When I think about Thomas’s improvisation, it immediately made me think about a line from Dr. Dre’s “Forget About Dre.” Specifically, “Now you wanna run around talking ‘bout guns like I ain’t got none, what you think I sold ‘em all.” Clarence Thomas cares about music, that’s what his ten-minute inquiry was all about. Dr. Dre got in trouble. Dr. Dre got to keep his guns. He then became a great success! If we allow other criminals to obtain and keep their guns, we might be able to inspire the next Eazy-E. (Tangent. I watched Straight Out of Compton. Easy-E is awesome. I feel like he got shafted in life, given Cube’s and Dre’s success. But that’s a story for another post).
In the end, Thomas is his own man. He may completely ignore all legal precedent sometimes, as he did in Obergefell v. Hodges. He might author a dissent based on John Locke, the Magna Carta, 18th-century British legal philosophy, natural law, and the Declaration of Independence, as he did in… Obergefell v. Hodges. In fact, he might not be a judge at all; just a man who manages the most important legal issues in the country with his own personal opinions. But a robotic puppet? I think not.