August 10, 2003

Paging Senator De Concini...

The Washington Post's Al Kamen on yet another misrepresentation of his views from Clarence Thomas:

No Justice for All (washingtonpost.com): But that doesn't mean justices can't mature on the bench. Take, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas. During his confirmation hearings 12 years ago, Senate Democrats grilled him for his views on a constitutionally protected right to privacy. Under questioning from Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Thomas said that his "view is that there is a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment."

Former senator Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), a key moderate, focused on the issue in a floor speech announcing his support for Thomas. "This is a very important point," DeConcini said. "I was also pleased to hear that Judge Thomas agrees that the fundamental right to privacy also extends to non-married individuals. He repeatedly stated that he agreed with the Supreme Court's leading precedent in this area," which "extended the right to privacy stated in" Griswold v. Connecticut, a case dealing with the right of married couples to buy contraceptives.

DeConcini, a Judiciary Committee moderate, was a critical swing vote in the 52 to 48 confirmation vote for Thomas. But in the court's ruling in June striking down anti-sodomy laws, Thomas dissented, saying: "And just like Justice Stewart, I 'can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy,' " quoting Potter Stewart's dissent in the Griswold case.

Posted by DeLong at August 10, 2003 08:16 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Of course, all of Dr. DeLong's views on important subjects remain unchanged from 13 years ago ;o)

Personally, I see " privacy " rights inherent in the 4th, 5th and 10th amendments as well as procedural proctections for privacy in the 14th. However I think it is wrong to attribute a sinister motive to changes in Thomas' views other than an intellectual evolution over time. Being one of the Supremes is a different kettle of fish intellectually speaking than being a district or even an appellate judge

Posted by: mark safranski on August 10, 2003 10:41 AM

There has been no evident intellectual evolution for Clarence Thomas, simply an absurd inconsistent self-serving pretense at strict construction. There is little sense for Clarence Thomas that the constitution might have been intended as protective of individual rights, though we are still broadening that concept of the individual.

Posted by: lise on August 10, 2003 11:46 AM

If one really has intellectual principles, they change very little over life. Clarence Thomas unterwent the usual Republican confirmation conversion. After confirmation, they all revert. Thomas is no exception.

Posted by: Mike on August 10, 2003 01:59 PM

Mike: Warren, Brennan, Blackmun and Souter all moved dramatically to the Left after their appointment to the Court. It is quite possible to honestly "change your intellectual principles over life"; people totally unable to do so are called "fanatics". The real question is whether Thomas actually did change his mind about the right to privacy, or whether he was simply perjuring himself during his confirmation hearings -- the way he perjured himself when he told the senators, with a straight face, that he had never thought about whether or not he agreed with Roe vs. Wade.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 10, 2003 11:58 PM

Clarence talks and Nino's lips don't even move. What skill!

What a joke.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on August 11, 2003 04:47 AM

"Warren, Brennan, Blackmun and Souter all moved dramatically to the Left after their appointment to the Court."

Except that: (1) For none of these guys will you find a pronouncement in the confirmation process that they rejected while on the bench--in contrast to Thomas. (2) The four you cite didn't really change their principles--they simply applied their principles to the facts, and reached a result that some of their rightwing supporters found surprising. Souter in particular was labled a "stealth" candidate at the time--he was deliberately chosen as somebody who had not made public statements of position that could be criticized in the confirmation process--and the fact that his positions truned out more liberal that his supporters anticipated is a case of the punishment fitting the crime. Warren, the career prosecutor, as sometimnes happens, could see the fallacies in his former collegues' positions more clearly than any outsider. That Brennan and Blackmun came, over the course of their careers, to be regarded as "liberals" is more a matter of the country's political drift to the right than any drift on the part of the justices to the left.

Posted by: rea on August 11, 2003 06:08 AM

Justices like Blackmun (appointed by President Nixon) and Kennedy (appointed by President Reagan) are called "Leftists" by those who assume that, if you want the government out of your bedroom, then you must therefore be a Marxist who wants it to socialize all the factories.

Posted by: Steven Malcolm Anderson on August 12, 2003 11:46 PM

Justices like Blackmun (appointed by President Nixon) and Kennedy (appointed by President Reagan) are called "Leftists" by those who assume that, if you want the government out of your bedroom, then you must therefore be a Marxist who wants it to socialize all the factories.

Posted by: Steven Malcolm Anderson on August 12, 2003 11:48 PM

Justices like Blackmun (appointed by President Nixon) and Kennedy (appointed by President Reagan) are called "Leftists" by those who assume that, if you want the government out of your bedroom, then you must therefore be a Marxist who wants it to socialize all the factories.

Posted by: Steven Malcolm Anderson on August 12, 2003 11:53 PM
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