Justice Thomas Takes Leading Role in Supreme Court

Justice Thomas Takes Leading Role in Supreme Court
Photo downloaded from SupremeCourt.gov

Clarence Thomas Assumes NEW ROLE?

(NewsBroadcast.com) – At the end of the 2022 Supreme Court (SCOTUS) session, its conservative majority delivered an opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the 1973 abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade. The justices also struck down a New York law about carrying handguns in public as violating the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Justice Clarence Thomas has taken a prominent role in those decisions and others. According to reports, he is at the peak of his power.

Nomination and Confirmation

When Justice Thurgood Marshall retired from the court in 1991, it fell upon then-President George H. W. Bush to put forth a name to fill the vacancy. He was under heavy pressure to nominate a black judge to replace him, so he gave Thomas’ name to the Senate.

To say that the Democrats were unhappy would be a gross understatement, and those who are old enough to remember will recall a very contentious hearing on the nomination. Although he is a black jurist, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) opposed his nomination, claiming that he “fails to demonstrate a respect for or commitment to” civil rights laws and “has revealed an hostility [sic] to constitutional principles” that impact them (page 37/534.) Judge Thomas, however, called the whole confirmation process “a circus” as well as “a high-tech lynching.”

Influence on the Court

A July 2 report by Axios claimed Thomas is the most powerful he has ever been on the newly-conservative Supreme Court. It alleges that for the first time since he has been on the bench, the longest-serving justice has become the “main character” on the bench. That has been evident not just in his own concurring opinions on the court, but also in the majority opinions.

Claremont McKenna College Professor Ralph Rossum told the website that there is a “whole array of concurring and dissenting opinions” Thomas has written over the years that the conservative court can “take more seriously.” That was demonstrated in footnote 41 of the Dobbs majority opinion when Justice Samuel Alito mentioned Thomas’ concurring opinion in the case of Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. In that opinion, the justice talked about eugenics being possibly used against the African-American community.

As the court moves forward with justices who are far more conservative than Chief Justice John Roberts, Thomas’ influence will likely be at the forefront of decisions.

Conservative Point of View

Justice Thomas has always been rightfully proud that he pulled himself up from poverty to the positions he held after graduating from Yale Law School and was a vocal opponent of affirmative action programs. In a 1984 interview in the Washington Post, he said of the black leaders of the time that all they did was “moan” and “whine.”

Much has also been made of Thomas’ stance on Brown v. Board of Education — the case that outlawed racial segregation in public schools — where he has said he believes the correct conclusion was made, but not on sound legal principles. He obviously still is of the opinion that court cases should be decided by using the Constitution as the basis and not what public opinion desires.

Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs makes it clear that he does not believe Roe v. Wade was based on an interpretation of the laws of this country. He referred back to many of his opinions in previous SCOTUS decisions where he repeatedly and without ambiguity stated that position.

Justice Thomas is famous for keeping his silence during oral arguments before the court, once going 10 years without asking a single question of the lawyers. Now, however, with a conservative majority on the panel of nine, it appears that he intends to make his voice a sharp chisel in shaping its future.

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