Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clarence Thomas’s Continuing Payback

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

You can say what you want about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and plenty has been said and little of it’s flattering. But you can’t say he’s not a man of his word. Since that fateful day in 1991 when by the narrowest of margins a deeply divided and even more deeply reluctant Senate confirmed him to the high court, Thomas vowed payback against those who ridiculed, reviled, and hounded him during the confirmation fight. He will never forget that humiliation.
He proved that again in yet another of his patented one man dissents against the court’s majority ruling not to scrap a key section of the Voting Rights Act. Thomas went against his fellow hard line, strict constructionist, cut buddy Antonin Scalia in his dissent. He argued that he’d dump the Act since as he put it "The extensive pattern of discrimination that led the Court to previously uphold Section 5 . . . no longer exists. “

It does, and the other eight judges, Scalia included, obviously were bothered enough by the briefs from civil rights groups that implored the court to uphold the Act. They fully documented that more than a few districts in the South and the West have used rigged or malfunctioning voting machines, selective photo IDs, contrived language requirements, alleged ballot shortages, the absence of polling places and registrars, the selective use of felon laws, and intimidation tactics to chase as many blacks, Latinos and American Indians from the polls as possible. The Justice Department has filed dozens of voting irregularity and discrimination complaints in the past two decades.

Thomas’s ridiculous lone wolf votes on race based court cases, of course, make no sense to most legal experts. But his decisions make sense because they have less to do with his warped interpretation of law and its practice than with his publicly expressed racial views, and his private vow to get revenge.
When asked how long he’d stay on the court, he reportedly said that he’d stay there for next 43 years of his life. He was 43 at the time. In a more revealing aside, he supposedly quipped to friends that it would take him that long to get even. Whether that is hyperbole or an apocryphal tale, it hasn’t taken him 43 years to wreak his revenge.

He has been a one man wrecking crew to expunge race from law and public policy decisions. But this is not simply one man’s personal bitterness over his alleged mistreatment by liberals and civil rights leaders. Or a case of his digging his heels in to push his retrograde view on racial matters. He wants more judges to think and act like him on the bench. And all the better if those strict racial constructionist judges happen to be minorities.
In his autobiography My Grandfather’s Son, the bitter feelings that he holds against those who did so much to dump his confimration were on full display. He showed no sign of budging a step from the relentless public and private war he’s waged against civil rights leaders and liberal Democrats. The “liberal mob” as he brands them has one goal, and only one goal, and that’s to “keep the black man in his place.” The black man of course is Thomas.

The other theme that courses through Thomas’s clinical need for payback is his obsessive view of himself as the perennial martyr. In an American Enterprise Institute lecture in 2001, he wrapped himself in the martyr’s garment and said that he expected to be treated badly for challenging liberal opinion.

Thomas’s mean-spirited and vindictive views and legal opinions on the death penalty, age and gender bias, first amendment, prisoner rights and affirmative action cases were well known by the time he hit the court in 1991. It can hardly be said that Thomas latched on to judicial conservatism solely to curry favor with white conservatives to snatch a seat on the high court. He believes what he says and writes even when others don’t and can’t. But even if he didn’t he’d still say and write the ridiculous things he does that masquerade as dissenting legal opinions. He’s simply fulfilling his vow of payback.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on ktym.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When did all Black people have to think alike? Your comments were more amusing than thought provoking. Some African Americans believe that our accomplishments (I do mean all) from every aspect of life have been significant. Science, sports, music, politics, education, government-Blacks have achieved right alongside other races.

I'm trying to figure out what is the Black mathematical formula that will appease Black critics. Should 40% of all industry be controlled by Blacks? Should Blacks be the CEOs of 50% of all businesses? The conversation at best is ludicrous. At worst, it's schizophrenic. The funny thing that highlights this paranoia is Blacks only represent, at the most 15%, of the popuplation.

In areas that Blacks like (sports, music), we excel. In areas that Blacks find challenging, we struggle. This tells me that Blacks can accomplish whatever we choose to succeed in...if we just try. And this is what Clarence Thomas means.

I pray for the day when my fellow Black Americans will say, "I don't know if will succeed, but I will try my hardest to make it happen".

Yes, trying to "make it happen" involves risk. One of the risks is losing. You can't win all the time. The LA Lakers was the only team that won the 2009 NBA championship. But they could not have won, unless there were another team who also thought they had a chance of winning.

With all the history of success of Black American, even under harsh conditions, we have shown that we can overcome the worst odds.

This is the communication that needs to come out of Black media, not the "woe is me", stale Steppin Fetchin shadow cast about Blacks in America.

As for me, It's 6am on Friday morning June 26, 2009. I'm just getting ready to head out while watching the news about Michael Jackson. He was two years older than I. I saw the Jackson 5 at Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa Florida in 1971.

I have to make some sales today to eat and feed my family. Do I think that I will be successful? Yes. Am I 100% sure that I will make a sale? No! But this is part of the risk taking.

Some Black media outlet needs to take the unprecedented lead and stop talking negative about Black people. I wonder what would happen if Blacks started speaking in uplifting tones about the success of Black people? I pray for that day to come before the end of my life.

God Bless!