June 30, 2006

Clarence Thomas: Does he have a clue?

From Crooks and Liars (emphasis mine):


[In the Hamdan decision,] Justice Thomas refers to Justice Stevens’ "unfamiliarity with the realities of warfare"; but Stevens served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. Thomas’s official bio, by contrast, contains no experience of military service.


Posted by binky at June 30, 2006 12:28 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts


Of course Scalia often makes nasty asides about how dense and wrong his colleagues are - but to my knowledge they are rarely THIS low. Either Thomas doesn't care to learn much about the life (even the basic biography) of someone he's worked with for 16 years, or, well, he's an asshole who thinks he knows much more than he actually does.

Posted by: Armand at June 30, 2006 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Being in the Navy during wartime does not necessarily make one familiar with "the realities of warfare." I'd have to know a lot more of the context before declaring Thomas, one of the Court's more thoughtful writers, an "asshole".

Posted by: jacflash at June 30, 2006 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

OK, if you don't like asshole - how about presumptuous bordering on asshole? Thomas has spent virtually his entire professional life in the air-conditioned and spiffy-suit filled offices of the the federal government in DC. Stevens served in the Navy, for years, during the last great war that truly threatened our country's survival - a war in which a lot of caputured US Navy personnel were grossly abused by the Japanese. All that I can I quickly find about Stevens's service is that he was in intel, worked with code-breakers (or as one?) and earned a Bronze Star. It strikes me that most Bronze Star winners are familiar with the realities of warfare.

Posted by: Armand at June 30, 2006 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what Stevens did in the Navy, but if I were someone who had not served at all, I would hesitate to cast stones about his knowledge of warfare.

Posted by: binky at June 30, 2006 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

what happened to my comment here? did i forward it to one of you after having it barred? dunno -- but the gist of it was, it's jurisprudentially unsound in any event, and in that sense both unprofessional and undignified. even scalia at his most derisive doesn't go directly ad hominem. a real low point for thomas, and for the Court generally.

Posted by: moon at July 3, 2006 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

It probably got eaten. The new program takes all moderated comments and if they aren't approved within 24 hours, deletes them. Sorry. We're still working out the bugs. However, I have adjusted the filter down a bit, so you stand less of a chance of getting moderated.

Posted by: binky at July 3, 2006 03:13 PM | PERMALINK

that in mind, to elaborate briefly, the thrust of my argument is that appellate judges are bound by the records, arguments, and law before them. to call upon a justice to bring material personal experience to bear on a question -- or to excoriate him for his failure or his putative inability (in virtue of some gap in his experience) to do so -- is to embrace the worst sort of judicial activism, that which reintroduces into the judging process precisely the personal arbitrariness and caprice that stare decisis and judicial review are designed to resist.

if one judge's personal experience leads him to reach a different outcome than he would absent that experience, as an abstract and institutional matter, the whole enterprise is lost. and in writing what he did, that's precisely what thomas is implying should have happened in hamdan. any "conservative" that applauds thomas for his snark is applauding out of one side of his mouth precisely what the other side of his mouth descries.

Posted by: moon at July 3, 2006 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

I agree 100% - though I know you and I both would like to see a lot more Caprice on the federal bench (but no, not caprice).

Posted by: Armand at July 3, 2006 05:13 PM | PERMALINK
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