And a new (albeit tiny) respect for the Washington Post...
Agreed. He stepped up here. Article follows.
He hardly ever speaks during oral arguments, often appearing asleep on the bench. But in his written opinion Monday supporting the right to bear arms, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas roared to life.
Referring to the disarming of blacks during the post-Reconstruction era, Thomas wrote: "It was the 'duty' of white citizen 'patrols to search negro houses and other suspected places for firearms.' If they found any firearms, the patrols were to take the offending slave or free black 'to the nearest justice of the peace' whereupon he would be 'severely punished.' " Never again, Thomas says.
In a scorcher of an opinion that reads like a mix of black history lesson and Black Panther Party manifesto, he goes on to say, "Militias such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces and the '76 Association spread terror among blacks. . . . The use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves from mob violence."
This was no muttering from an Uncle Tom, as many black people have accused him of being. His advocacy for black self-defense is straight from the heart of Malcolm X. He even cites the slave revolts led by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner -- implying that white America has long wanted to take guns away from black people out of fear that they would seek revenge for centuries of racial oppression.
Of course, Thomas's references to historic threats posed by white militias might have been dismissed if not for a resurgence of such groups in the year after Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black president.
And if their behavior turns as violent as their racist rhetoric often threatens, then Thomas will almost certainly go down in history as the nation's foremost black radical legal scholar.
Thomas, the only black justice, sided with the court's conservative majority in a 5 to 4 vote to give Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old black man from Chicago, the right to buy a handgun. In his lawsuit to repeal Chicago's restrictive handgun law, McDonald said he needed a gun to protect himself -- not from a white mob but from young black "gangbangers" who were terrorizing his suburban Chicago neighborhood.
Thomas agreed with McDonald, concluding that owning a gun is a fundamental part of a package of hard-won rights guaranteed to black people under the 14th Amendment. And just because some hooligans in Chicago or D.C. misuse firearms is no reason to give it up.
"In my view, the record makes plain that the Framers of the Privileges or Immunities Clause and the ratifying-era public understood -- just as the Framers of the Second Amendment did -- that the right to keep and bear arms was essential to the preservation of liberty," Thomas wrote. "The record makes equally plain that they deemed this right necessary to include in the minimum baseline of federal rights that the Privileges or Immunities Clause established in the wake of the War over slavery."
Thomas made no mention of the black loss of life and liberty from handguns being wielded by other blacks. But he has made clear on other occasions that the problem is not that there are too many guns in the black community; the problem is too many criminals.
He dismissed the cogent gun-control arguments of his retiring colleague, John Paul Stevens, conjuring up the abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens instead: "When it was first proposed to free the slaves and arm the blacks, did not half the nation tremble?"
Let 'em quake, Thomas appears to be saying.
From Frederick Douglass, Thomas writes: " 'The black man has never had the right either to keep or bear arms,' and that, until he does, 'the work of the Abolitionists was not finished.' "
Because of his conservative take on affirmative action and prisoners' rights, he has been cast as an uncouth African American who didn't understand black history, a dupe for arch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and a man who couldn't think for himself.
What Thomas has created, however, is a legal defense of the Second Amendment so thoroughly original and starkly race-based that none of the white justices would even acknowledge it, as if it were some blank sheet crafted by an invisible man.
That ought to be a clue enough for black people that this document is at least worth a look. You may not agree with his conclusion, but there'll be no mistake about where he's coming from.
His autobiography, "My Grandfather's Son", is an excellent read.
Great article and a great opinion from Mr. Thomas. He hit the nail on the when he said the problem wasn't too many guns but too many criminals!
My respect for Justice Thomas's opinion stems more from the fact that he differed from the majority in how to incorporate MacDonald- Thomas agreed with Gura that the Privileges and Immunities Clause deserves a resurrection, instead of the much overused and abused Due Process clause.
Thomas was the ONLY SC jurist to wrestle with the P&I clause. His opinion is VERY well written and worth reading.
Whether he realized it or not, Justice Thomas hit the nail on the head when he wrote that 2A rights are necessary for the preservation of liberty. It seems we are drawing ever closer to needing them to protect ourselves from our own government as well as criminals.
Ever since his confirmation Justice Thomas has been a staunch and consistant supporter of the Second Amendment. Three cheer's!
I'll take the counter-position and maintain that Clarence Thomas is an affront to jurisprudence. He's a sub-intellect affirmative-action hire who has no business serving on any court, let alone the highest in our land.
In a period of three years he spoke barely a single word from the bench and asked no questions. His opinions are mainly written by his clerks, and legal scholars are unanimous in that he has the mind of a child. He is manifestly nothing but a lapdog of Scalia and Roberts. He shames America.
This particular opinion of his strikes me as jejune and puerile. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment and freedom and self defense. It's nothing but a racial tirade. Black man this, black man that. Sorry, but the interpretation of the Constitution should be construed as applying to ALL Americans, regardless of race.
Glad we got his support for this ruling and glad we won a very important victory for gun ownership rights. Citizens in New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and California need relief from their restrictive state governments. But I would never, as long as I live, ever think that Clarence Thomas was anything but a simple-minded idiot.
Thomas did a good job in his opinion. As did Alito & Scalia.......
BUT.........................If you haven't read the decision yet, you should!
This case, like Heller, was way to close...5 to 4! Here is a paragraph from Breyer's dissent that should scare you:
The left's opinion is that the 2nd does not apply to self defense, nor does it apply to prohibiting states from passing any regulation they like!Quote:
In my view, JUSTICE STEVENS has demonstrated that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “substantive due process” does not include a general right to keep and bear firearms for purposes of private self-defense. As he argues, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment with this objective in view. .... Unlike other forms of substantive liberty, the carrying of arms for that purpose often puts others’ lives at risk... And the use of arms for private self-defense does not warrant federal constitutional protection from state regulation.
Here's more to prove what I'm saying:(Breyer's dissent...)
I shall therefore separately consider the question of “incorporation.” I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as “fundamental” insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes. Nor can I find any justification for interpreting the Constitution as transferring ultimate regulatory authority over the private uses of firearms from democratically elected legislatures to courts or from the States to the Federal Government. I therefore conclude that the Fourteenth Amendment does not “incorporate”the Second Amendment’s right “to keep and bear Arms.” And I consequently dissent.
the Fourteenth Amendment does not incorporate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for purposes of private self-defense. Under this Court’s precedents, to incorporate the private self-defense right the majority must show that the right is, “fundamental to the American scheme of justice,”..... And this it fails to do.
You really should read the dissents....they could be the majority if just ONE Justice on the right retires or dies!Quote:
In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self-defense. There has been, and is, no consensus that the right is, or was, “fundamental.” No broader constitutional interest or principle supports legal treatment of that right as fundamental. To the contrary, broader constitutional concerns of an institutional nature argue strongly against that treatment. Moreover, nothing in 18th-, 19th-, 20th-, or 21st-century history shows a consensus that the right to private armed self-defense, as described in Heller, is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition” or is otherwise “fundamental.” Indeed, incorporating the right recognized in Heller may change the law in many of the 50 States. Read in the majority’s favor, the historical evidence is at most ambiguous. And, in the absence of any other support for its conclusion, ambiguous history cannot show that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates a private right of self-defense against the States.With respect, I dissent.
It really should scare you when all of these 'no-brainer' decisions are split 5-4....Remember that's what happened with Heller & Kilo!
I agree with shockwave.
I think the only thing driving his decision is race. If it wasn't about a black man he would have gone back to sleep. He is a do nothing guy that just milks the system for a paycheck.
A good article about how this was even more about the 14th Amendment and guaranteeing that ALL RIGHTS apply to ALL citizens in ALL States, including the 2nd Amendment.
(The McDonald Decision and the Second Amendment)
Thanks go to : Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy.