Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reid on Thomas

It was unintentionally funny that Senator Reid said that Justice Thomas is an "embarrassment" to the Supreme Court because his opinions are so "poorly written." Any educated observer of the Court instantly suspected that Reid must never have read a Thomas opinion. (True, Thomas doesn't write with the flair of Scalia, but neither do any of the other Justices. Moreover, Thomas's writing is less long-winded and/or pompous than the writing of some other Justices I could name.)

It was even funnier when Senator Reid confirmed his ignorance on CNN when asked for a specific Thomas opinion. His answer:
You take the Hillside Diary case. In that case you had a [dissent] written by Scalia and a [dissent] written by Thomas. There — it's like looking at an 8th grade dissertation compared to somebody who just graduated from Harvard.

Scalia's is well reasoned. He doesn't want to turn [stare decisis] on its head. That's what Thomas wants to do. So yes, I think he has written a very poor opinion there and he's written other opinions that are not very good.
As James Taranto points out, Reid's statement was wrong in every conceivable respect: (1) Thomas's short concurrence/dissent is not poorly written; (2) Scalia didn't even write a dissent at all in that case, which means that Reid was referring to a non-existent dissent; and (3) while Thomas's opinion acknowledges that he would consider overturning the "negative Commerce Clause," this doesn't distinguish him from Scalia, who has agreed elsewhere that he would do the same thing.

Let me add to the catalogue of Reid's errors: What does he mean by "8th-grade dissertation"? Isn't he aware that PhD students write "dissertations," not 8th-graders?

Stuart Buck


Blogger Michael Drake said...

Yikes. Reid's really digging a hole for himself, here.

2:43 PM  

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