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Touting and Doubting Thomas

November 13, 1994

After reading David G. Savage's "Lone Justice" (Oct. 16), I wonder whether questions about Judge Clarence Thomas' veracity and qualifications would be at issue if he was a liberal. Although Savage tried to write in a balanced manner, both his dredging up of Spike Lee (such a purveyor of scholarly thought) and his commenting that Malcolm X would have called Thomas a "handkerchief head . . . Uncle Tom" were patently offensive to me. It seems as though Savage holds a filmmaker and a pimp-turned-racist militant in higher esteem than a Supreme Court justice who happens to be a black conservative.

Thomas and Thurgood Marshall were poles apart. Yet Marshall was never castigated for being "a knee-jerk left-winger." Clearly, when it came to the death penalty and civil-rights causes, Marshall had an agenda. So what?

Thomas is reviled by Savage, by activist groups and, unfortunately, by other African Americans because he isn't "politically correct." Many people, especially black citizens, buy into the belief that all African Americans should think alike, forming a united front to uplift the whole race. Kudos to Thomas for dispelling this inaccurate premise. His shining day in court will come.

Clifford L. Wilson Jr.

Los Angeles

*

Three years later, the liberal media still cannot stand the fact that Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court. According to Savage, Thomas is guilty by association--being friends with Rush Limbaugh. He is guilty because of his quiet demeanor. And he is guilty of not voting according to race, as every good black man should. Indeed, how dare Thomas not cower to the distinguished members of the Senate Judiciary Committee? And how dare he not give interviews to a left-wing press that still reviles him?

Michael Allen

North Hollywood

*

During the lengthy confirmation hearings, my main concern, aside from the Anita Hill controversy, was with Thomas' statements denying that he had preconceived opinions in several areas. I had hoped that my suspicions would prove unfounded, and that Thomas would follow in his predecessors' footsteps, bringing much-needed diversity to the court.

How disgraceful that now, several years into his lifelong term, we know the truth. In Thomas' effort to attain one of the highest positions in the nation, he was untruthful--a poor quality in any person but an intolerable one in a Supreme Court justice.

Meryl Schwartz

Irvine

*

It was the comment about Thomas sounding more like a Jeffersonian liberal than a Reagan conservative that moved me to write. Jefferson's statement has so often been misquoted and been used out of context that the accurate text may come as a surprise to many liberals, who have used it to justify laws that ban prayer in schools, ordinances that restrict Nativity scenes on public property and proposals that the phrase In God We Trust be removed from our coins and currency.

It reads: "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state. That wall is a one-dimensional wall. It keeps government from running the church but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government."

Personally, I'm glad that Thomas is a conservative who sounds like a Jeffersonian.

Ruth Peterson

Orange

*

Savage chooses two examples he labels as voting-rights discrimination: the cases involving Lawrence Presley's loss of decision-making power on road-construction matters, and Bleckley County's change from one county commissioner to five. These are simply examples of power politics, which can be found in any small jurisdiction.

While the situations cited by Savage were correct, they represent the type of problems that need to be solved by the electorate at the local level and not by the U.S. Supreme Court.

C. Robert Ferguson

Pasadena

*

The impression that remained with me after reading your hate piece on Thomas was that he is a man of incredible dignity and courage. It's about time that we leave behind the narrow-mindedness of the Thurgood Marshall years and give encouragement to African Americans who have the courage to stand up for conservative principles and individual self-worth. The liberal establishment only values those African Americans who conform to a monolithic socialist agenda, and the Democratic Party, which is always trumpeting its own tolerance for diversity of ideas, really has no tolerance at all.

Rush Limbaugh and Clarence Thomas, both men of character, will be around long after liberalism and socialism are dead.

Donna Hawkins

Pasadena

*

A banner across the second spread of Savage's story shouts that Thomas has rarely affected the outcome of a key case. What that refers to, I assume, is his being among the majority in a 5-4 decision. The same could have been said about Justices John Marshall and Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Marshall court was usually unanimous, and Holmes is best remembered for his dissents.

Kent S. Scheidegger

Legal Director, The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Sacramento

*

In ordinary life, if a job applicant is found to have lied or to have hidden his true qualifications or ideas that are germane to his job, that person is subject to dismissal from that job. Why doesn't that apply to candidates for political office, including judges?

Howard Devorkin

Santa Monica

*

Good heavens! Thomas listens to and likes Rush Limbaugh, he smokes cigars, drives a Corvette and prays with his wife. I can see how such activities would hinder his movement toward liberalism--excuse me, growth. I feel so enlightened.

Tom Larson

Woodland Hills

*

Savage's article attempts to trivialize and mock Thomas' passionate commitment to the ideals of personal responsibility and hard work. Anyone who reads Thomas' own words will see a quite different sort of man than the one Savage portrayed.

R. M. Sloan

Marina del Rey

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