Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words

I can’t really express how good this PBS special is. I mean it’s really, really, really, awesomely good. You can stream the movie RIGHT NOW —

One of the things that really struck me was not only how slimy Joe Biden was as chairman of the confirmation hearings but how well he spoke and portrayed himself on television. Joe Biden is just a shadow of his former self. Just take a look at a little bit of this clip to remind yourself how effective he was an orator —

Then there’s this whole “natural law” stuff where Biden says —

I just want to make sure we all know what we are talking about here. . . . There is a fervent, bright and aggressive school of thought that wishes to see natural law further inform the Constitution than it does now. The positivists, led by Judge [Robert H.] Bork, argue against this school. Again, that may be lost on all the people, but you know and I know what we are talking about.

Since I had no idea what Joe Biden was talking about, I hunted up this video. It’s fun if you have an extra ten minutes to watch:

Thomas saw all of the Natural Law questions as an attempted trap for the “how will you rule on abortion?” question. From the Los Angeles Times, SEP. 11, 1991,

But natural law has proven to be something of a wild card. Critics have wondered whether a Supreme Court justice who believes in natural law might decree that a fetus has a natural right to life, that property rights may not be infringed by zoning laws or that women have a natural role as mothers and homemakers.

Biden wrote an article in the Washington Post at the time

It would be a grave mistake to invoke natural law to call into Constitutional doubt laws protecting us from environmental degradation, laws regulating the qualifications of child-care providers, and laws establishing minimum wages and workplace safety. This is decidedly not the direction in which the country should be moving.

Is this the direction that Judge Thomas’s natural-law thinking would take us? Initially, I am heartened by the fact that Judge Thomas has chided conservative activists who seek a return to the most extreme aspects of the Court’s 1920s jurisprudence in the fields of economic and property rights.

On the other hand, he has given signs that point in the opposite direction. He has scolded “government” for passing laws such as “licensing requirements” and “the minimum wage.” And he has insisted that “economic rights are protected as much as any other rights” by the Constitution.

The man who wrote this, whether you agree or not, is not the man in the basement today. I find it all rather stunning.

And, of course, there’s Anita Hill. While I knew that the parallels between the Thomas hearing and the Kavanaugh hearing were significant, you really have to watch the testimony from Anita Hill again to see how it’s almost identical to the playbook used with Kavanaugh. Perhaps this is why it didn’t work since Brett Kavanaugh delivered the same rebuttal that Clarence Thomas did.



Please watch the Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words. You’ll be glad you did. Also, remind yourself how formidable Joe Biden would be today if he had his faculties of 1991. It gives me a bit more of an understanding about why his support is so strong within the Democratic Party.


Mark Rosneck

Written by Mark Rosneck

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