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Comparing Thomas to Marshall

January 02, 2003

I had a good laugh reading the Dec. 29 commentary by Scott Gerber, "The Strong, Silent Supreme Type." Let me get this straight -- Justice Clarence Thomas' silence is somehow a strength? A strength that elevates him to the stature of Oliver Wendell Holmes? And adding insult to injury, just because Thomas has spoken out on racial issues, somehow Gerber has the audacity to compare Thomas favorably to a truly great justice, Thurgood Marshall.

This "defense" of one of the least experienced, least qualified justices in modern times rings hollow. C'mon, Mr. Gerber, let's give credit where credit is due: Thomas' opinions and voting record come via the rubber stamp and the photocopier in Justice Antonin Scalia's office. That's about as close as Thomas gets to jurisprudence; his empty echoing of Scalia's slant is truly frightening.

Jon Merritt

Los Angeles

*

Gerber's commentary was somewhat perplexing. Although he is correct in his observation that Thomas and Marshall were both subjected to racism during their lives, it is baffling how both men saw civil rights from such dramatically different perspectives. Justice Thomas views civil rights as an individual concern while Justice Marshall recognized that racism is practiced toward groups -- Asian, black, Hispanic, women, etc. -- but directed at individuals because they are members of a group. It is unfortunate that the type of opinion Thomas espouses is undermining much of the work that Marshall devoted his life to.

Roland J. Davidson

Los Angeles

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This commentary is really a bad joke. Gerber states that "since becoming a justice Thomas has continued to speak out on questions of race." He should have added that when he does so, minorities and tolerant people shudder. Thomas is clearly one of the worst Supreme Court appointments of modern times. He was not qualified by his experience, scholarship or intelligence. Thomas was appointed because he was an educated African American who spouted the conservative line. Comparing Thomas to Marshall is ludicrous and absurd and dishonors the memory of one of our great justices.

Melvin Bragman

Laguna Woods

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