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Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall’s vision with one more malleable to the strong than to the powerless.



This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. It was originally published in The Conversation.

As public attention is focused on the closing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, personal and financial relationships with a politically active conservative billionaire, close scrutiny overlooks the pivotal role that Thomas played for almost three decades on the nation’s highest court.

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. It was originally published in The Conversation.

As public attention is focused on the closing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, personal and financial relationships with a politically active conservative billionaire, close scrutiny overlooks the pivotal role that Thomas played for almost three decades on the nation’s highest court.

Thomas’ predecessor on the court, Thurgood Marshall, what civil rights lawyer before becoming a judge. In 1991, in his final opinion before retiring after a quarter of a century on the court, Marshall warned that the growing interest of his fellow judges in reviewing and overturning previous decisions would eventually “squander credibility and legitimacy this court as a protector of the powerless.”

Since then, his prediction has been cited in Supreme Court decisions, including a three-judge dissent from June 2022. Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization a ruling declaring that there was no constitutional right to reproductive choice and overturning Roe v. Calf.

While agreeing with the majority decision in this case, Thomas stated his opposition to the Marshall principle, lamenting that the court had not done more to shorten its previous work. “In future caseswe must review all significant due process precedents of this Court,” Thomas wrote, explicitly implying Americans’ rights to sexual privacy and same-sex marriage.

Throughout Thomas’ tenure, he has pushed the Supreme Court to review previous rulings that provided strong rights for the most vulnerable in society, and replace Marshall’s vision with one more amenable to the strong than to the powerless. And in writing my book, which traces the life and work of both judges, I have seen the fruits of those efforts multiply over the past decade.

Shield for the needy

Few phrases could more accurately capture Thurgood Marshall’s vision of the court’s work as “protector of the powerless.” And few Americans have done as much to bring that vision to life.

Marshall’s work to promote black citizenship well knownbut also fought for extended rights to women And local, accused another convicted, adherents of marginal religions another those with unpopular views.

Marshall’s jurisprudence was based on the hope that while the law can be a powerful tool of oppression, it can also be a shield.

As he wrote in his last dissent, in Payne vs. Tennesseesecuring constitutional rights “often requires that this court rein in the forces of democratic politics” to protect the powerless from the tyranny of the majority.

While his disagreement with Payne criticized the court for changing its mind, Marshall was no stranger to calling for a revision of established law. Marshall’s landmark achievement as a lawyer in Brown W. Department of Education had to convince the court to refute the doctrine of separate but equal, which arose after 1896. Plessy W. Ferguson solution.

The three lawyers who won Brown v. The Board of Education stands outside the Supreme Court after its victory: from left to right, George Hayes, Thurgood Marshall and James Nabrit Jr. Bettmann via Getty Images

As a judge, Marshall has passionately and repeatedly proven that The death penalty violated the Eighth AmendmentRussia’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments, which led to a brief period when it was considered unconstitutional.

The difference between Marshall and Thomas is not really about whether the court should reverse past decisions, but simply which ones.

While Marshall wanted the court to become “the champion of the powerless,” Thomas, I believe, advocated not only to diminish that vision, but to promote the interests of the powerful.

Power as a key factor

While last summer’s abortion decision is a clear example, Thomas has led the court’s assault on precedent in other areas.

For example, years before the court invalidated portions of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. HolderThomas had argued that the lack of modern discrimination in voting made the act unnecessary.

Similarly, recent decisions have followed Thomas. lead in weakening the lifeblood of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which reinforces the separation between church and state.

Thomas even called for the court to review its decision in Gideon vs. Wainwrightwhich established the constitutional right to counsel for indigent criminal defendants.

In each case, the powerless will suffer the most.

Those in need of constitutional protection, according to Thomas, are more likely to be property owners, corporations that contribute to the campaign or gun owners.

On affirmative action

Perhaps no topic better reflects the difference between the views of the two men than the affirmative action that the court considers in a couple of cases from Harvard And University of North Carolina be decided within this time frame.

The mistrust of government that fuels many of Thomas’s points of view is never more personal than in cases of race being used in college admissions. He spoke out against affirmative action, stating that it stigmatizes blacks in prominent positions, “stigmaon “whether or not their skin color played a role in their promotion.”

Indeed, Thomas claims that his position requiring color blindness is best path to full black citizenship. He made this statement even in situations where he knew it would result in more limited access to opportunities for black students in the short term.

Marshall has always looked at the problem from a different perspective, arguing that access to opportunities is important not only for affected black students, but for the country as a whole.

“If we ever become a fully integrated society in which the color of a person’s skin does not determine the opportunities available to him or her,” Marshall wrote in 1977, “we must be ready to take steps to open these doors“.

It is access for the powerless, according to Marshall, that should guide the thinking of the court.

But this summer, the court may finally adopt a different vision of affirmative action, revisiting a position that Thomas has championed for decades.

Such a turn would have been another turn to the side, squandering Marshall’s vision of the court.

Daniel Keel is a FedEx Law Professor and author of The Transition: An Interpretation of Justice from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas in University of Memphis

This article has been reprinted from Talk under a Creative Commons license. Read original article.


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Supreme Court retains access to abortion pill – despite Alito’s salty objections



Two weeks after Texas Judge Matthew Kachsmarik issued a nationwide ban on abortion pills Mifepristone – Withdrawal of FDA drug approval since 2000 – Supreme Court there was orderpending full consideration of the appeal on the merits of the case. This decision delays not only the sentencing of Kaczmarik, but also decision of the Fifth Arbitration Court of Appeal, which restored the 2000 FDA approval for the drug but banned the 2016 FDA update that extended mifepristone use from seven to 10 weeks. This means that abortion pills are allowed, again, up to 10 weeks.

This is a victory for reproductive rights as they preserve the rights that people still have after last year’s Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health cancellation of the decision Row vs Calf counted as a “win”. Now the case is heading back to the Fifth Circuit, which will hold a hearing and, almost certainly, issue another chaotic ruling against abortion pills. This decision will eventually be challenged in the Supreme Court, so we don’t know when access to medical abortion will again be in jeopardy.

However, this is not a complete victory. The Supreme Court should have dismissed Kaczmarik’s decision outright, rather than postponing it until further review. This is because Kachmaryk’s decision was not only wrong in substance, but also a complete disaster in technical and procedural terms. The plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit to ban abortion pills – a group of hyper-Christian “doctors” – did not demonstrate that they had suffered any harm from the FDA’s approval process and therefore should not have been allowed to go to trial. Moreover, the lawsuit should have had a statute of limitations – there is a six-year statute of limitations for challenging FDA decisions – and Kaczmarik simply ignored it. These procedural shortcomings meant that the case could be closed without dragging it out until a later date when the court decided to consider the case in its entirety.

However, this outcome has always been the most likely. The Supreme Court doesn’t like to dismiss cases without a full hearing, and while I thought this case was so idiotic that it could and should have overcome that general preference, I’m not surprised that the court’s conservative supermajority wanted to give forced birth favor a full hearing. .

I’m also not surprised that the votes of the judges ultimately fell short. The court granted a stay in the form of an unsigned one-paragraph order, but two judges who disagreed publicly expressed their disagreement: Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Alito wrote a complete disagreement.

Pretty much everything Alito writes is offensive, wrong, and dangerous, and that’s the case here too. But since he’s lost (so far), his disagreement also smacks of bitterness. He is furious, and it is easy to imagine how he types in the dead of night with his face wrinkled from the bile that enlivens his soul. Alito essentially held the entire country hostage by this ruling for a couple of days, just so he could scatter sand in a form of dissent.

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Alphabet CEO Pichai makes over $200M in 2022 amid spending cuts



(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc CEO Sundar Pichai received a total compensation of about $226 million in 2022, more than 800 times the average employee salary, the company said in a securities filing on Friday.

According to the statement, Pichai’s compensation included about $218 million in stocks.

Pay inequality comes at a time when Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is cutting jobs around the world. California-based The Mountain View announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs worldwide in January, the equivalent of 6% of its global workforce. .

Earlier this month, hundreds of Google employees went on strike at the company’s London offices following a layoff dispute.

In March, Google employees went on strike at the company’s Zurich office after laying off more than 200 employees.

(Reporting by Rishab Jaiswal in Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Live from New York: Will AI replace this podcast?



The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast recorded live at The Bell House in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, returning to a live venue in New York for the first time since the pandemic. Nate Silver and Galen Druk dissecting recent poll Assuming 30 percent of New Yorkers want to leave the state, challenge ChatGPT to see if it can replace their jobs and discuss the current state of the 2024 Republican primaries. They also welcome a surprise guest and spectator who will play New York-themed quizzes.

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