Monday, October 1, 2007

Blog Posts on Justice Thomas

Here are a few blog posts about Justice Clarence Thomas. In the first, Ed Morrissey recounts a charming evening at a dinner with Justice Thomas:
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Thomas had that kind of blunt speaking style, but without any rancor or bitterness. He came across as a man who had nothing left to prove and no criticisms to answer. In fact, Thomas mentioned that he has never had any unpleasantness in his personal appearances. A couple of times at universities, faculty members have walked out on him -- "it's always the faculty and never the students," he emphasized -- and said, "Whoop-de-doo! Cowards run. It's what they do."
He got perhaps his biggest laugh when answering one of my questions. I had asked him if he agreed that some justices have "grown" on the bench, without being specific, although Kristol encouraged him to get very specific. Thomas demurred on the specificity, but took some time to give a thoughtful answer. He agreed that the phenomenon exists, and that he sees it as a pressure of incentives and disincentives. Some justices worried about how law schools and other elites will perceive them, and begin to develop opinions with an eye to prestigious invitations and awards -- and the punishing lack of same if they do not evolve towards the accepted wisdom of academics. "I wouldn't get an invitation from Columbia University unless I was a Middle East dictator with nuclear weapons," he gave as an example, again with his trademark booming laugh.

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In the second, law professor David Bernstein speculates about the effect that the confirmation process had on Thomas's thinking:
The Left's Strategic Mistake (?) Regarding Clarence Thomas:

With Clarence Thomas so much in the news these days, I was thinking about whether left-wing political activists made a terrible mistake (from their own perspective) regarding Clarence Thomas, pushing him, permanently, farther to the right then he would have ended up on his own.
The third:
Of all the cool things I’ve done in Washington over the past six years, having dinner with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas tonight ranks as one of the best. I really had no idea what to expect before meeting him, but I came away inspired by his uplifting attitude and great sense of humor. He’s also remarkably humble for being such an important person in Washington.
The fourth:
I had the pleasure of joining about 20 members of the new media for a dinner with Amazon’s #1 author for dinner this evening. Justice Thomas was wise, candid, and upbeat. The “controversial” justice stresses that he hasn’t had a negative incident in his 16 years on the Court. He explains it is humbling that he is treated so well by audiences he addresses and others he meets. He cheerfully notes that when he has encountered some opposition on university campuses, “it is always the faculty, never the students.” He laughingly allowed that he would have to be “a Middle East dictator with nuclear weapons to be invited to Columbia,” adding that it wasn’t an invitation he was interested in.

His terrific book wasn’t easy to write. Many of the events of his life, like the loss of loved ones, were painful tragedies to recall. He puts his confirmation ordeal in another category. That episode represented “being set upon by bad people.” He is at a loss when asked what he thinks is the most prevalent misconception about him because he doesn’t concern himself with what others are saying. “I know who I am. I don’t have to go into Fun House mirrors to see what others think.”
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His book recounts a meeting he had with President George H. W. Bush’s counsel Boyden Gray who explained that Clarence Thomas’s performance as a Reagan appointee had persuaded the White House that he was unlikely to “buckle” once he was on the Court. (Souter-shy?). They were right. They had found the best-qualified nominee.

The source of his equanimity is no mystery. Justice Thomas brought his favorite prayer, the “Litany of Humility,” to our attention.
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And here's a book review:
"I wept beyond tears, slipping into the barren, rhythmic heaves of a body seeking something more."

The poetic words of inconsolable grief were penned by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his newly released memoir, My Grandfather's Son. In this moving passage, he describes his agony in the days following the death of the man that came to be "Daddy". The book is filled with magnificent prose in which one of the most powerful men in America repeatedly dares to bare his soul - dares to make himself vulnerable to the cold, hard world of cynics in which we live.

In a pin-striped town where pretending and pretentiousness are the status quo, it is startling to hear a man at the highest positions of power be so honest about his heartaches, fears, and painful memories. The result? My Grandfather's Son has the potential to be the most life-changing book of our era.

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