Re: [xmca] FW: Goodman: With Justice Thomas, it's more about philosophy than race

From: Kris Gutierrez <gutierrez who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jul 09 2007 - 08:33:38 PDT

thanks, Peter. I thought my attached pdf went through with my
message; I see it didn't. I found it on JSTOR as well.
Kris D. Gutierrez
Social Research Methodology
Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
Moore Hall 1026
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521

Address for the Academic Year 2006-07

Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences
75 Alta Road
Stanford, CA. 94305-8090

On Jul 9, 2007, at 3:56 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

> The letter Kris refers to is at
> p
> Peter Smagorinsky
> The University of Georgia
> Department of Language and Literacy Education
> 125 Aderhold Hall
> Athens, GA 30602-7123
> /fax:706-542-4509/phone:706-542-4507/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:xmca-
>] On
> Behalf Of Kris Gutierrez
> Sent: Sunday, July 08, 2007 8:03 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: Goodman: With Justice Thomas,it's more about
> philosophy than race
> Re: Justice Thomas
> You might be interested in reading Judge and scholar Leon
> Higginbotham,
> Jr.'s essay: "Open Letter to Clarence Thomas from a Federal Judicial
> Colleague" in Toni Morrison's Race-ing Justice, En- gendering
> Power (1992);
> it was first published in the Penn Law Review. I read it some
> years ago and
> later while at Harvard had the opportunity to hear Higginbotham's
> thoughts
> about "Brother Clarence" (to quote him). The NY times wrote in '92:
> "An Open Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas from a Federal Judicial
> Colleague" created an enormous buzz when the University of
> Pennsylvania Law
> Review published it in January 1992. Written by A.
> Leon Higginbotham Jr., chief judge emeritus of the U.S. Court of
> Appeals for
> the Third Circuit, it was part history lesson and part admonition.
> Crafted
> with scholarly precision, it contained eighty- five footnotes and
> numerous
> citations of important court cases. But the essence of it read like
> a stern
> grandfather lecturing his bullheaded grandson: Don't forget the
> roots of
> your success, boy, and the responsibilities you have to those who
> paved your
> way."
> For those interested, I found the PDF and I think it's the same
> version that appeared in Morrison's book. It's worth the read.
> Kris ?
> Kris D. Gutierrez
> Professor
> Social Research Methodology
> Graduate School of Education & Information Studies Moore Hall 1026
> UCLA Los
> Angeles, CA 90095-1521
> 310-825-7467
> Address for the Academic Year 2006-07
> Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences
> 75 Alta Road
> Stanford, CA. 94305-8090
> On Jul 8, 2007, at 8:02 AM, Paul Dillon wrote:
>> Peter,
>> I for one appreciate the info you've been providing about the
>> pube-can man. I always felt that Thomas' appointment to replaced a
>> truly great supreme court justice and man, Thurgood Marshall, showed
>> the venality, hypocrisy, and moral bankruptcy of the political forces
>> that gained ascendancy with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and
>> which have since converted the US in the pariah it has become in the
>> world today. Some might remember the old bumper stickers: "Impeach
>> Earl Warrren", similar stickers might be appropriate for Thomas in
>> the
>> present.
>> Paul
>> Peter Smagorinsky <> wrote:
>> OK, one more on Clarence Thomas. I'll preface it with something an
>> old college friend said when I sent it to him:
>> Remarkable. I remember, faintly, thinking of the Supreme Court as an
>> assemblage of wise, wrinkled up old geezers who would thoughtfully
>> consider questions brought before them and render truths.
>> That was never the case, I suppose, but the current justices could
>> write their "opinions" without even hearing the legal arguments, and
>> the "opinions" are really nothing more than elaborate statements of
>> each justice's pre-existing biases. None more so than Thomas, I am
>> sure.
>> They seem little different in kind from the familiar local loudmouth
>> on a bar stool, asserting his "opinions", hearing nothing said to
>> him,
>> questioning none of his own long-standing platitudes.
>> Goodman: With Justice Thomas, it's more about philosophy than race
>> By Ellen Goodman | Columnist | Story updated at 7:08 PM on Thursday,
>> July 5, 2007
>> Let me wish the Supreme Court justices a fond farewell as they set
>> out on
>> their summer vacation. We all can rest assured now that they won't
>> do any
>> more damage until the first week in October.
>> And a special shout-out to Clarence Thomas, who may embark on his
>> annual
>> road trip in his 40-foot motor home knowing that he's accomplished
>> one life
>> goal. The justice is now talked about even less in terms of race -
>> less as
>> the profligate successor to Thurgood Marshall than as a certified
>> member of
>> the court's right wing. Color him conservative.
>> One of the last things the court did on its way out the door was to
>> strike
>> down the voluntary integration plans in the public schools of
>> Seattle and
>> Louisville. The plurality had the gall to invoke the famous
>> desegregation
>> decision, Brown v. Board of Education, to justify rolling back
>> integration.
>> Much was said about the new chief justice, John Roberts, and his
>> sound-bite
>> decision that "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race
>> is to
>> stop discriminating on the basis of race." Much was said about
>> Anthony
>> Kennedy's opinion that offers a Houdini-like school committee a few
>> ways out
>> of the box.
>> /opinion/story.shtml/29181615/x01/default/empty.gif/
>> 343462653332616634363432
>> 65383630?>
>> In contrast, Justice Thomas' concurring opinion got remarkably little
>> attention. By now he's been identified with the little statue of
>> St. Jude
>> that he keeps on his desk: the patron saint of lost causes.
>> But for those who still find Thomas a fascinating figure after 16
>> years on
>> the bench, his opinion was fertile ground. It was rife with scorn for
>> "social theories" and disdain for integration itself.
>> Thomas did more than compare the integrationists of today with the
>> segregationists of 1954. He praised the virtues of some all-black
>> high
>> schools in the Jim Crow era. Then he added, "it is far from
>> apparent that
>> coerced racial mixing has any educational benefits, much less that
>> integration is necessary to black achievement."
>> One sentence leaps out of the footnotes: "Nothing but an interest in
>> classroom aesthetics and a hypersensitivity to elite sensibilities
>> justifies
>> the school districts' racial balancing programs." He trivialized
>> the values
>> of diversity to a matter of aesthetics and closed with a warning:
>> "beware of
>> elites bearing racial theories." So much for a half-century of
>> civil rights.
>> These still are extraordinary words coming from the one justice on
>> the bench
>> who actually attended segregated black schools. But they are not
>> extraordinary words from the man who officiated at Rush Limbaugh's
>> wedding
>> and whose favorable ratings among black Americans have been clocked
>> at 32
>> percent.
>> Thomas' psyche still intrigues those who search for the biography
>> in his
>> opinions. We know Thomas as a man who benefited from the
>> affirmative action
>> he scorns. He attended Holy Cross with a scholarship established
>> for blacks
>> after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He was accepted to Yale Law
>> School, where a program committed 10 percent of the seats to
>> minorities.
>> In their engrossing book "Supreme Discomfort," Kevin Merida and
>> Michael
>> Fletcher write, "Race is a central fact of his meteoric rise and
>> Thomas has
>> alternately denied it and resented it - all the way to the top."
>> I have no doubt Thomas sees himself as the victim of racism, and
>> the "racism
>> lite" experienced by many black professionals tagged as
>> "affirmative action
>> babies." He's kept the pile of rejection letters received after
>> graduating
>> from law school. At his searing confirmation hearings, he froze the
>> senators
>> in their tracks by consciously describing himself as the victim of a
>> "high-tech lynching." He also knows that many people questioned his
>> credentials for the Supreme Court.
>> There is also no doubt Thomas is fiercely independent, a prickly
>> individualist. Merida and Fletcher describe his "need not to be
>> typecast,
>> which is a synonym for limited, which is a synonym for inferior."
>> But his
>> struggle against stereotypes, especially black stereotypes, plays out
>> ironically as a struggle against being typecast as moderate or
>> progressive.
>> He once defended his conservative ideology by saying he refused to
>> have his
>> ideas assigned to him "as though I was an intellectual slave
>> because I'm
>> black."
>> The end result of this "rebelliousness" is, perversely, that Thomas
>> is the
>> most extreme justice when it comes to rolling back civil rights.
>> The result
>> of this "independence" is that he's the most predictable member of
>> the
>> conservative camp.
>> There Thomas is certain to remain. This justice was confirmed by the
>> smallest margin in history. He not only convinced senators that
>> Anita Hill
>> lied, he convinced them that he wouldn't be a rigid ideologue. Honk
>> if you
>> believe Anita now.
>> At only 59, Clarence Thomas sits on the far right edge. As the
>> court drifts
>> further and further in his direction.
>> . Ellen Goodman is a syndicated columnist whose work appears
>> occasionally in
>> the Athens Banner-Herald. Send e-mail to
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