Twenty-nine years ago, Joe Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and presided over the “high tech lynching” of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Since then, Brett Kavanaugh has been subjected to similar treatment by the Democratic members of the same committee. Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett were also unfairly abused, if not quite so brutally.
Clarence Thomas didn’t just take the abuse. He fought back, telling Biden to his face, “…I think that this today is a travesty. I think that it is disgusting. I think that this hearing should never occur in America.” Given what Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett were forced to put up with, I think he spoke for all of them.
But given the constraints all five justices were subject to, they could not really respond adequately to all the cheap shots, character assassination, and abuse they were forced to suffer. Now, together, they can let their actions speak for them.
Their first salvo was Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, when they told Democratic Governor Cuomo of New York to stop harassing his churchgoing constituents. It’s only appropriate that this first exercise of power by the new Thomas Majority should be in defense of the religion in which they were all raised — Catholicism.
There is more to come, so much more that it will amount to a judicial counterrevolution. Undoing Roe v. Wade is just for openers. We’ve got 85 years of judicial activism to work with. Talk about your target-rich environments!
This isn’t the work of one term, or one presidential administration. This is the work of a generation. Thomas is 72 and Alito 70, and they are both in good health, and good spirits. For the next ten years, at least, we can expect the Thomas Majority to hold, and it’s not unreasonable to expect both Thomas and Alito will be able to retire during a Republican administration, thus assuring their judicial legacy will continue. Kavanaugh is 55, Gorsuch 53 and Barrett 48. They’re all going to be around for a very long time.
Restoring American liberty is a big job, and they’ve got all the time in the world.
In 1973 Fritz Pettyjohn ran for President of the Student Bar Association at UCLA School of Law. He promised to abolish the association if elected. He got a quarter of the vote.