Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Dowd, Thomas

Well done, "more than a lawyer" (but still less than a man?) Alt, on Maureen Dowd’s put-down of Justice Thomas. We need to compare her to Trent Lott. It really is the same phenomenon of regarding blacks as an instrument for a political agenda at odds with the Declaration of Independence.

To deepen this argument: Lucas Morel was bothered by Justice Thomas’s arguments about burning crosses terrorizing blacks and therefore not qualifying as speech. Is this not akin to the psychological effects arguments made by Justice Kennedy in that Rhode Island school prayer case, Lee v. Weisman, and of course to the doll test in Brown?

As usual, Lucas is on to something. But, based on my reading of the Justices’ questioning as reported, the thrust of Justice Thomas’s remarks difers from thatof the others. I believe it was Kennedy (again!) who used the term "Pavlovian" about blacks’ reaction to a burning cross. But Thomas was referring to something more like Justice Scalia’s example of brandishing a gun. Thomas stands for manliness in his understanding of constitutional liberty, most of the other Justices for lower principles.

By the way, on the Klan and the use of the seemingly bland and neutral statement "separation of church and state," see Philip Hamburger’s book of that title. There he lays a convincing case that this ACLU-liberal slogan was the darling slogan of the KKK, as it waged war against Catholics, even to the point of inviting black Protestants into their fanatical crusade.

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