November 15, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - During Supreme Court arguments, Justice Clarence Thomas sits mute, not asking a single question while his colleagues on the bench jockey to get in the next interrogatory. But this week, in front of 1,300 adoring conservative lawyers in a Washington hotel ballroom, another Clarence Thomas emerged: loquacious, folksy, irreverent, and totally at ease with his audience and himself. The result was a glimpse of the court's most controversial figure letting down his hair, talking candidly about not just his upbringing but his feelings and his approach toward judging.
June 26, 2013 |
One of the most annoying habits of some of my liberal friends is their casual derogation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas is derided not just as an extremist, which is true when you plot the legal philosophies of the justices along a spectrum, but also a clone of Antonin Scalia and an intellectual lightweight. The latter two accusations are just false. Thomas and Scalia have disagreed in significant cases, and Thomas' opinions, however idiosyncratic, are often tightly reasoned and provocative.
January 15, 2013 |
Not since "Garbo Talks!" has a public figure's decision to speak attracted such attention. I'm referring, of course, to the media sensation created this week when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke an almost seven-year-long silent streak to crack a joke during oral arguments in a case involving the adequacy of counsel in a Louisiana murder case. As The Times' David Savage reported, most of what Thomas said was drowned out by cross-talk, but apparently he had some fun with the idea that one of the lawyers in the case should be considered qualified because she attended Yale Law School, Thomas' alma mater but an institution about which he has mixed feelings.
January 14, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - It's a slow news day at the U.S. Supreme Court when the biggest story is whether an overheard, offhand comment by Justice Clarence Thomas means he has broken his nearly seven-year streak of silence. Thomas has never liked asking questions during the court's oral arguments. He insists the justices should listen, rather than interrupt the advocates. He last asked a question on Feb. 22, 2006, and his silent streak has taken on a legendary significance. But Thomas is not entirely quiet.
January 12, 2013 |
In the documentary "Anita," which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in four sold-out screenings beginning Saturday, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock focuses her lens on law professor Anita Hill (who hadn't yet seen the film at press time). More than 20 years after Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in turbulent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Hill is an author, professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University's Heller School of Social Policy and Management and a frequent speaker on sexual discrimination and civil rights.
June 26, 2012 |
The first day of a big week for the third branch of government brought a ruling on Arizona's immigration law that was less than satisfying for Justice Antonin Scalia and the Rush Limbaugh wing of the U.S. Supreme Court. A five-vote majority that included Chief JusticeJohn G. Roberts Jr.struck down all but one provision of the controversial statute, asserting that the federal government has preeminent authority for setting immigration policy. They did leave intact the most controversial element of Arizona's disputed law -- the mandate placed on local police to determine the immigration status of anyone detained for other violations if there is reason to suspect that person is in the country illegally -- but they ruled that taking further steps to kick undocumented persons out of the country or to keep them from seeking work or require that they carry documentation of citizenship are not powers allocated to the states. Scalia scoffed at this.