Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama Demeans Thomas and Exposes Own Shortcomings

Clarence Thomas, the only black member on the Supreme Court and a highly respected jurist, was demeaned and insulted for political gain by Senator Obama in Saturday's forum. As a conservative nominee, we well remember the "high tech lynching" that took place by Democrat senators and operatives at Thomas's hearing because he had the gall to be a black conservative who also believed that abortion is wrong. Using a playbook that was originated at a previous hearing for Judge Bork, Thomas was smeared and lied about and private detectives went through his garbage. Justice Thomas faced down the liars and gained the nomination; now along comes Obama and reaches down into left-wing talkingpoints to defame Thomas again. Senator Obama ought to be careful; his qualifications and experience might be compared to Justice Thomas and found wanting.

Obama on Clarence Thomas

August 18, 2008 Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama likes to portray himself as a centrist politician who wants to unite the country, but occasionally his postpartisan mask slips. That was the case at Saturday night's Saddleback Church forum, when Mr. Obama chose to demean Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Pastor Rick Warren asked each Presidential candidate which Justices he would not have nominated. Mr. McCain said, "with all due respect" the four most liberal sitting Justices because of his different judicial philosophy.

Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that "that's a good one," and then adding that "I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don't think that he, I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution." The Democrat added that he also wouldn't have appointed Antonin Scalia, and perhaps not John Roberts, though he assured the audience that at least they were smart enough for the job.

So let's see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General's office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second most prominent court. Since his "elevation" to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.

Meanwhile, as he bids to be America's Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn't yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a "community organizer" and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas's judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama's Presidential résumé by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas's rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama's story look like easy street.

Even more troubling is what the Illinois Democrat's answer betrays about his political habits of mind. Asked a question he didn't expect at a rare unscripted event, the rookie candidate didn't merely say he disagreed with Justice Thomas. Instead, he instinctively reverted to the leftwing cliché that the Court's black conservative isn't up to the job while his white conservative colleagues are.

So much for civility in politics and bringing people together. And no wonder Mr. Obama's advisers have refused invitations for more such open forums, preferring to keep him in front of a teleprompter, where he won't let slip what he really believes.


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At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justice Thomas is such a highly respected jurist, that he is not allowed to write majority opinions in significant cases. The only thing approaching a singificant case in which he wrote the majority opinion was ACLU v. Ashcroft. Even then he could only get two other justices to concur with his entire opinion.

His opinions are so far out of the mainstream that even Justice Scalia has trouble with them. When asked to compare his judical philosophy with Thomas's, Scalia said, "I'm an orginalist, but I'm not a nut."

At 2:50 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

That may be your opinion and that may be Obama's opinion, but his voicing that opinion on national television showed a mean streak noone wants to see in a president -especially in a candidate so lacking in credentials and one who makes gaffes constantly and reverses himself several times a week.

"Like most court opinions, Scalia's in Raich is premised on the principle of stare decisis, the doctrine of adhering to precedents except in the most extraordinary circumstances. He assumes that Wickard, Lopez, and Morrison are all correct in order to make his argument in Raich for nuanced doctrinal distinctions that allow for all four conclusions. It's a strange tack from a jurist who has ridiculed the Court for its reluctance to overturn some precedents, notably Roe v. Wade. In 1989's Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (which allowed some regulation of abortion), Scalia wrote in his concurring opinion that "Justice O'Connor's assertion [in her concurring opinion] that a 'fundamental rule of judicial restraint' requires us to avoid reconsidering Roe, cannot be taken seriously." If so, then it should be permissible to reconsider other precedents. By leaving it to judges to decide what constitutes a circumstance extraordinary enough to warrant reconsidering a precedent, the prevailing stare decisis standard invites the sort of mischief that Scalia is fond of warning against: it encourages judges to pick and choose the precedents they target according to their own policy preferences.

Whenever liberals want to argue that Clarence Thomas is really scary, they point out that "even Scalia" thinks Thomas is too quick to throw precedents out the window: Scalia was quoted in Ken Foskett's biography of Thomas as saying that Thomas "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period," adding that "if a constitutional line of argument is wrong, he'd say let's get it right. I wouldn't do that."" American Spectator

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more cynical. I think Obama denounced him because he is black...thinking that gains him automatic ground with white hesitant fence-sitting would-be Obama supporters.


At 11:37 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

I wouldn't exactly call this a Sister Souljah moment.


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