CT

The Wall Street Journal has an extraordinary interview with Justice Clarence Thomas in today’s paper.

The interview is just full of enlightening insight into the man that has so long been an enigma of sorts. My favorite is the example of constitutional interpretation he gives his clerks, whereupon he takes a coat hanger and bends it in just a few places, with the result being that it can virtually never regain its original shape. Such is his view of the harm too much constitutional tinkering can inflict on our country’s founding document.

Justice Thomas continues:

Maybe I am labeled as an originalist or something, but it’s not my constitution to play around with. Let’s just start with that. We’re citizens. It’s our country, it’s our constitution. I don’t feel I have any particular right to put my gloss on your constitution. My job is simply to interpret it.

He notes that “”we should interpret the Constitution as it’s drafted, not as we would have drafted it.”

Admitting the Constitution is flawed, Justice Thomas counters that trying to warp it’s interpretation back the other way without jurisprudential justification doesn’t “clear[] up the problem, I’ve simply trumped it with my personal preferences.”

He also gives a great example of the over-importance given to stare decisis by modern-day jurists, pointing to Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) (which officially sanctioned “separate but equal” segregation policies) as a prime example of the dangers of adhering to past decisions simply because they make up the past.

Justice Thomas even addresses his [in]famous predilection for choosing not to ask questions during oral argument and answers a question I first posed regarding his reasoning for doing so. Almost a year ago, I posited that his reluctance to ask questions during oral argument was either because “he generally makes up his mind from the briefing and thus feels no need to explore briefed issues with the appellate counsel in person,” or because “he views as more effective to swaying the votes of other Justices the circulation of opposing opinion drafts to pilloring the target Justice’s favored counsel” during oral argument. Well, Justice Thomas makes clear in the interview that, by and large, the cases are so thoroughly and well-briefed by the time they reach the Court, that “[m]ost of the answers are in the briefs. This isn’t Perry Mason.”

Thx to the WSJ , How Appealing, and, as always, to Justice Thomas

Advertisements