Books | Law

August 20, 2007

Trying to Understand Clarence Thomas

Thomas's biographer talks to Gelf about the strange inconsistencies and inner turmoil of the most politically conservative Supreme Court justice.

Aaron Zamost

For the vast majority of cases defining modern major American legal issues, you can find decisions authored by every justice to sit on the Supreme Court in the past 20 years, with many justices having written important opinions across multiple areas of law. Every justice, that is, except for Clarence Thomas, whose legal interpretations are so different from those of his peers that he often writes his own opinions even when he votes with the Court's majority. "In just the past term, Clarence Thomas has written concurrences saying that students have, essentially, no free-speech rights when they are under school supervision and that there is no constitutional right to abortion," his biographer, Michael Fletcher, tells Gelf. "I think even many of the court's conservatives want to have more nuance than that."

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Article by Aaron Zamost

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