Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution
a book by Myron Magnet
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that When Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court in 1991, he found with dismay that it was interpreting a very different Constitution from the one the framers had written—the one that had established a federal government manned by the people’s own elected representatives, charged with protecting citizens’ inborn rights while leaving them free to work out their individual happiness themselves, in their families, communities, and states.
He found that his predecessors on the Court were complicit in the first step of this transformation, when in the 1870s they defanged the Civil War amendments intended to give full citizenship to his fellow black Americans. In the next generation, Woodrow Wilson, dismissing the framers and their work as obsolete, set out to replace laws made by the people’s representatives with rules made by highly educated, modern, supposedly nonpartisan “experts,” an idea Franklin Roosevelt supersized in the New Deal agencies that he acknowledged had no constitutional warrant. Then, under Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1950s and 1960s, the Nine set about realizing Wilson’s dream of a Supreme Court sitting as a permanent constitutional convention, conjuring up laws out of smoke and mirrors and justifying them as expressions of the spirit of the age.
But Thomas, who joined the Court after eight years running one of the myriad administrative agencies that President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society had piled on top of FDR’s batch, had deep misgivings about the new governmental order. He shared the framers’ vision of free, self-governing citizens forging their own fate. And from his own experience growing up in segregated Savannah, flirting with and rejecting black radicalism at college, and running an agency that supposedly advanced equality, he doubted that unelected experts and justices really did understand the moral arc of the universe better than the people themselves, or that the rules and rulings they issued made lives better rather than worse.
So in the hundreds of opinions he has written in more than a quarter century on the Court—the most important of them explained in these pages in clear, non-lawyerly language—he has questioned the constitutional underpinnings of the new order and tried to restore the limited, self-governing original one, as more legitimate, more just, and more free than the one that grew up in its stead. The Court now seems set to move down the trail he blazed.
Thomas disliked FDR's administrative agencies and LBJ's Great Society and supported self-sufficient citizenry instead (like the Founders supported), so he was against affirmative action, rightly figuring it merely created worse racial tensions, not racial justice
A free, self-governing nation needs independent-minded, self-reliant citizens, and Thomas’s biography, vividly recounted here, produced just the kind of character that the founders assumed would always mark Americans. America’s future depends on the power of its culture and institutions to form ever more citizens of this stamp.
'Hit these guys, boys, for their protest against the violent Antifa thugs' [our media and their cop enforcers have gone from leftists to extreme radical leftists—this is very dangerous]
As Magnet sees it, the nation is falling apart, as symptomized by "Hillary Clinton's assertion that 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.' Another is Senator Cory Booker's claim that to support Kavanaugh is to be complicit with evil. Yet a third is a recent poll showing that 68 percent of respondents think that only among like-minded people are they safe to say what they think about race or Islam, while 70 percent feel similarly constrained on sex and 'gender,' and 73 percent on immigration.' No wonder screaming mobs roam Washington and its suburbs, hounding Republican officials and their families out of restaurants and besieging a conservative broadcaster's house, while in New York, smirking, twentysomething activists mockingly harass a Fox News anchor in a subway car from which he can't escape, egging on fellow riders to taunt him threateningly for the villiany of his political incorrectness." See They won't cover the left-wing mobs, but they'll cover Republicans' reaction.
Hillary Clinton's asserted that 'You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about'
He continues: "The Left, conversely, likes government by experts and elites. Greater enlightenment, which means not just more knowledge but consequently more compassion, assures that, in addition to perceiving what's best for the people, Leftist elites will naturally protect workers, 'the disadvantaged,' and a host of victim groups against over-powerful corporations and undeserved inequality, which to them is the essence of democracy. Experts will have the skill and the virtue to distribute wealth more fairly—that is, more equally—than the market, not according to self-interest but in the interest of social justice. Incalculable technological and moral progress has taken place since the founding, and those who are most up-to-date with it . . . are best suited to make just rules for a progressive society . . ."
Anti-white racism is just as ugly and destructive as anti-black racism and Naziism but the media pretends it does not exist
Magnet says conservatives believe that legislating from the bench (the Supreme Court) is not a legitimate function of our constitutional government, so democratic processes like voters voting through their elected representatives should be used to settle controversial issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
He says we no longer have the Founders' vision of a republic. A free, self-governing republic requires a culture of liberty, capable of producing self-reliant, responsible citizens, not dependent, lazy, irresponsible people taking the easy way out.
The Assassination of President Lincoln by a failed actor with more bullets than brains did more than kill a good man. It also gave the Southern segregationist racists, that did not share our Founders' vision that all men are created equal, the push they needed to violently derail Lincoln's plan and prolong racial oppression for nearly a century. The winning of the Civil War was necessary, but the oppression of blacks the war was supposed to stop kept going, making the North's victory hollow at best. The racists were more than just bad losers—they formed the Ku Klux Klan and installed Jim Crow laws—state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white far-right Democratic-dominated state legislatures after the Reconstruction period.
The Assassination of President Lincoln did more than kill a good man. It also gave the Southern segregationist racists that did not share our Founders' vision that all men are created equal the push they needed to violently derail Lincoln's plan and prolong racial oppression for nearly a century
The 13th amendment outlawed slavery. Passed by Congress June 13, 1866, and ratified July 9, 1868, the 14th amendment extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to former slaves. However, racist oppression persisted for the next century until 1954 and 1964, so blacks didn't really get these rights. In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 superseded all state and local laws requiring segregation.
Magnet thinks of Justice Thomas as the "Founders' grandson" because of the way he persists with getting the unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence to all of our citizens. When Thomas went to a strict Catholic scchool, there was always a sense that all races in the U.S. deserved to be full participants in We the People, not just white people. He saw how the welfare checks made his sister and others dependent and feeling entitled but lacking ambition of any sort. His sister's kids were the same way—ruined by being on the public dole. His nephew ended up imprisoned for 30 years for selling cocaine, which Thomas begged him to stop doing, to no avail. He was in the seminary but he quit when white young people preparing for priesthood kept expressing racist sentiments. So Thomas had been abandoned by his mother and father and thrown out of the house by his grandfather for quitting seminary. He became an "angry black man" due to all the racism he heard around him and was subjected to himself. He learned to be cynical of not just welfare but affirmative action and racial busing programs and the blacks-as-victims mantra.
Thomas believes the original Constitution is best, but liberals want a 'living Constitution' that keeps evolving according to the 'expert' tastes of liberal activists
Thomas encountered real adversity growing up and he showed great strength of character in overcoming a false “liberal” view of how a black American should think.
Magnet states that 20% of the appellate judges appointed by Trump had clerked at one time for Justice Thomas.
Magnet's book explains why those who want a "living" constitution are so persistent in their attempts to denigrate the character and accomplishments of Justice Thomas. At a time when we really want to believe that there are still some men of principle in our government, Myron Magnet presents the constitutionalist Thomas. Magnet quotes from sources as diverse and validating as Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederick Douglass, and V.S. Naipaul.
“Myron Magnet has written a fascinating and provocative study of what he calls the ‘Lost Constitution,’ seen through the prism of Justice Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence, which the author sees as a way to retrieve it. Written for the lay reader, this brief volume makes a compelling case for originalism. With the light it shines on culture, character, race, and liberty under law, though, the book is about more than just Clarence Thomas and originalism, in the same sense that Moby Dick is about more than just whaling. A great read.” —Michael B. Mukasey, 81st Attorney General of the United States (2007–2009) and U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York (1988–2006)
With the light it shines on culture, character, race, and liberty under law, though, the book is about more than just Clarence Thomas and originalism, in the same sense that Moby Dick is about more than just whaling
“In Myron Magnet’s splendid account, sensational and learned by turns, the Framers join hands with a jurist from Pinpoint, Georgia, and the slums of Savannah. Riveting.”—Richard Brookhiser, author of John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court
“Myron Magnet captures the essence of Clarence Thomas through a thoughtful analysis of his work on the Court. Thomas says what he believes, does what is right, and harbors no concern about how he will be treated by the culture for the decisions he makes.”—Leonard A. Leo, Executive Vice President, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
"This is a man whose stubborn devotion to the original, written Constitution frightened powerful interests who would stop at nothing to take him down. Joe Biden appears here as he did in Thomas’s memoir: the two-faced ringmaster of a plot to assassinate Thomas’s character. The public, as the hearings unfolded, agreed: Polls showed more voters believed Thomas than believed [Anita] Hill, and voters favored his confirmation by a two-to-one margin. Yet Biden today is broiled by the left wing of his party for going too easy on Thomas and too hard on Hill. . . . Many past departures from the Constitution, from 'separate but equal' to gun control and campaign-finance restrictions, were the handiwork of segregationists. One of them, Woodrow Wilson, coined the idea of a 'living Constitution' as a 'Darwinian' exercise in the survival of the strong, allowing for rule by the better class of people." (Source: Clarence Thomas’s Quest to Recover the Lost Constitution, Dan McLaughlin, National Review)
"But the clash over stare decisis—the doctrine that courts must respect precedent as binding—runs far deeper. It is a manifestation of the crisis of legitimacy that has split Americans into two increasingly hostile camps.
On Justice Thomas’s side is the belief that the government’s authority rests on the written Constitution. This view regards a self-governing republic—designed to protect the individual’s right to pursue his own happiness in his own way, in his family and local community—as the most just and up-to-date form of government ever imagined, even 232 years after the Constitutional Convention.
Justice Breyer, by contrast, assumes America is rightly governed by a 'living Constitution,' which evolves by judicial decree to meet modernity’s fast-changing conditions. Judges make up law 'with boldness and a touch of audacity,' as Woodrow Wilson put it, rather than merely interpreting a Constitution he thought obsolete.
Wilson also established a corps of supposedly expert, nonpartisan administrators in such agencies as the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to make rules like a legislature, carry them out like an executive, and adjudicate and punish infractions of them like a judiciary. Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who supersized this system, considered it the cutting edge of modernity in the protection it afforded workers and the disadvantaged." (Source: Thomas and Breyer’s ‘Stare’ Contest: Their sharp disagreement about precedent reflects different worldviews that go far beyond abortion, Myron Magnet, Wall Street Journal)
"Magnet contends that Justice Thomas’s originalist jurisprudence offers a path forward for recovering our nation’s 'lost Constitution' and restoring America as a free, self-governing nation made up of self-reliant citizens. . . . The Framers thought of a very limited government that because they were afraid that their government could turn into an elective despotism. So they wanted to make sure that the people who ran the government, who had the same human nature as everybody else didn't turn from the servants of the people into their masters. So limits, limits, limits. They wanted to leave people free to do what Jefferson said, to pursue their own happiness in their own way in their families and communities. What has happened is that now it's become an unlimited constitution. And we have the living constitution as defined by first Woodrow Wilson in which the Supreme Court sits as a kind of permanent constitutional convention making up the law as it goes along in a kind of Darwinian fashion, said Woodrow Wilson, and we have the administrative state supersized by Franklin Roosevelt. So the anger with which Americans view each other across party lines today is based in very large measure on this dichotomy." (Source: Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution, Myron Magnet and Brian Anderson, City Journal)
Mr. Magnet finds that 'in our age of enraged shrinking violets, in which hypersensitivity to imagined slights alternate with rage against any nonconformity to orthodoxy, Clarence Thomas is one of a handful of honest and brave iconoclasts who love liberty'
"Mr. Magnet finds that 'in our age of enraged shrinking violets, in which hypersensitivity to imagined slights alternate with rage against any nonconformity to orthodoxy, Clarence Thomas is one of a handful of honest and brave iconoclasts who love liberty, especially the freedom to think for oneself, and who know how America, imperfect as all human things are imperfect, nevertheless was uniquely conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.'" (Source: Portraying a Supreme Court iconoclast, and issuing barbs of his own, Daniel B. Moskowitz, Washington Times)
Non-whites and other snowflakes cannot bear to be looked at the wrong way since they just know you are thinking politically incorrect thoughts about them (a.k.a. word violence) simply because you are a white male
"A half-century later, a new generation on the left would turn from judicial self-restraint to judicial activism, announcing constitutional rights not found easily in the Constitution’s actual text and imposing them to negate democratically enacted laws. The latter is what we came to know as “legislating from the bench.” But Wilson’s and FDR’s progressive approaches, by contrast, legislated not from the bench but from the legislature and from the executive. Magnet should be blaming the people, not the judges." (Source: Lest Ye Be Judged, Adam J. White, Commentary Magazine)
"I want to focus on Justice Clarence Thomas and specifically on the record he compiled during the past term. There is something almost discordant about including Justice Thomas in a discussion of 'the future' because his highly personal and eccentric jurisprudence would take the court and the Constitution hurtling backward into the past. That’s no great revelation. He has long insisted that the only legitimate way to interpret a constitutional provision is to give it the 'public meaning' it supposedly had at the time it was written. . . . Taken individually, the opinions I’ve discussed here may seem quite technical and rather unremarkable. Taken as a whole, as the work of a single justice during a single Supreme Court term, they paint an extraordinary picture of a judge at war not only with modernity but with the entire project of constitutional law." (Source: Is Clarence Thomas the Supreme Court's Future?: The conservative justice’s obsession with the past was on full display during the recent term, Linda Greenhouse, NY Times)
This court's Citizen's United decision rubber-stamped the corporatocracy. The Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt
Special interests cough up lots of money and buy the policies they want and the candidates they want. This was made very easy by the recent (2014) Supreme Court ruling. After the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizen's United case, the movement of the U.S. towards a corporatocracy is complete. Thomas was part of the majority in that decision. We disagree with the decision. Justice Stevens, of the minority dissenting opinion, wrote: "At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt." The ruling effectively drowns out the voices of everyday Americans and allows the buying of elections by the rich.
From our perspective, we (and many others) see this corruption of the democracy as more sinister: it may be that in theory, in a vacuum, the function of both the market and the state is to serve us, not dominate us. But in 2014 United States of America, the opposite is true. We serve as the cash cows for the dominant oligarchy. (See The US is an oligarchy, study concludes.)
We, the citizens, serve as the cash cows for the dominant oligarchy
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the only current black Justice, wisely and rightly opposes affirmative action. He believes the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids consideration of race, such as race-based affirmative action or preferential treatment. He also believes it creates "a cult of victimization" and implies blacks require "special treatment in order to succeed". He took the words right out of our mouthes. See:
- Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream
- 'Don't Make the Black Kids Angry': The hoax of black victimization and those who enable it
- The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind
- Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes
- Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War
- The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture
- The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars
David Horowitz nails it beautifully: we need a single standard: one law and one justice for all, not white standards and black standards, as in affirmative action and other black skin privileges! The fact that the multicultural madness of black skin privilege is supported by the administrations, and safe spaces and microaggressions are the words de jour, is a sad commentary on bleeding-heart liberal instincts crossing the border into madness. How the administrations could have been bullied into submission this way speaks little about their moral superiority but volumes about their cowardice. The spectacle of blacks who feel victimized constantly so they are watching every word and expression of everyone in academia is made worse as nonblack students find themselves jumping through hoops to please this "victimized" class, severely interfering with learning. The problem here is that few of the blacks are victims of anything except racebaiters like Al Sharpton who keep this issue alive to enhance their own power.
Blacks are taught by liberal extremists that they are victims and whites are victimizers—this is a key part of the liberal narrative
Can we blame whites for voting in a man—Trump—with the courage to say he doesn't subscribe to this PC nonsense? Did we really need a white lady beating us with the whip of our "white skin privilege" for 4 or 8 years? All the pro-black racist hiring policies, testing policies, and scholarship policies which set low standards for blacks have empowered incompetence and sown resentment, and ensured that racial tensions persist nearly half a century after the Civil Rights Acts outlawed racial barriers. This sheds light on the 2016 election. Nearly 2/3 of whites polled wished for all this anti-white racism to discontinue, since the way "affirmative action" is implemented screws them unfairly out of money, scholarships, and jobs.
All speech is fine, as long as it is what liberals believe. You either parrot back to them their PC beliefs or you'll be harassed, trolled, insulted, attacked with pie in the face, or physically assaulted
April 8, 2005: David Horowitz was hit in the face with a pie Wednesday during a speech at Butler University. The attack was the third incident in the last 10 days in which a conservative speaker has been doused with food while trying to speak on a Midwestern campus. And this was not the first time the man was assaulted on campuses by spoiled PC-obsessed brats.
Campus leftists don't believe in free speech. Social justice warriors (SJWs), in a politically correct trance of self-righteousness, believe in one-sided free speech. All speech is fine, as long as it is what THEY believe. You either parrot back to them their PC beliefs or you'll be harassed, trolled, insulted, attacked with pie in the face, or physically assaulted. They have no concept of free speech, which they believe should be a right that only those that are PC SJWs should enjoy. Why their teachers are failing to show them the error of their ways is a mystery.
April 8, 2005: David Horowitz was hit in the face with a pie Wednesday during a speech at Butler University. The attack was the third incident in the last 10 days in which a conservative speaker has been doused with food while trying to speak on a Midwestern campus. SJWs are going insane and getting violent and crazy. Where exactly is these conservative speakers' "social justice"?
Which party promotes hate speech and violence? It is—surprise!—the Democrats, the very same party that gave us segregation, KKK, and the ugly Jim Crow Laws.
Clarence Thomas can be seen as a man living in the past. Or, he can be seen as a man supporting the original Constitution and avoiding change because he feels underneath that his traditionalist grandfather that raised him would have wanted it that way. A good percentage of us adults live our lives trying to please our folks—whether or not these folks have already gone through the pearly gates. Thomas rightly rejects affirmative action and other race-based policies, and rightly rejects the political correctness nonsense, as do 80% of the U.S. Finally, Clarence Thomas can be seen as someone who rightly or wrongly believes the Founders had it right and us mucking it up is tampering with perfection. Pick one or more of these perspectives.