October 19, 2007

Hugh Hewitt talks to Clarence Thomas about religion, Jeffrey Toobin, blogs, jihadists, Black Power, Anita Hill, George Bush....

1. Does Catholicism affect his judging? Hugh Hewitt asks Clarence Thomas. Hewitt notes that Chicago dean Geoffrey Stone of Chicago has said that Catholicism infused the the Court's recent "partial-birth" abortion decision. Answer:
Oh, no. In fact, it works just the opposite. My view is simply that the important thing that it pushes you toward is adherence to your oath, which is to judge impartially. And my view is once you start sort of putting your personal beliefs and opinions into the law, or into the Constitution, you cease to have legitimacy, and I don’t think you should be on the Bench. Now I find that fascinating, though, that people would say things like that, and in the same breath, what I get, is the criticism that I don’t judge as a black judge, you know?

I’m supposed to somehow include my race in my judging, but the religion, you don’t include in your judging. I don’t think you should include either in your judging, and I don’t. And in sixteen years on the Bench, well, I’m one week short of sixteen years. But in the almost sixteen years I’ve been on the Bench on the Supreme Court, I have never done that. And in the more than sixteen I’ve been a federal judge, I have never done that.
2. Thomas loved Justice White:
I just loved the way Byron White conducted himself. I love the fact that he felt that the job was important, he felt that the Court was important, that the Constitution and our laws were important, but he wasn’t. that he was there to do his job and go home. And that’s what he did. He was just a good man.
3. Has he read "The Nine"? No, and he won't, but he knows Hewitt didn't like it. Hewitt says he thought Jeffrey Toobin was "very unfair" to some of the Justices, the way he made the Court — after Bush v. Gore — look "dysfunctional," with "bitterness is going on and people are crying and crushed." Thomas:
I didn’t see anybody crying. And the last I can remember is that after we announced the opinion, we all went upstairs and had lunch.

HH: He writes in there that the Court’s embarrassed by Bush v. Gore. Is that fair?

CT: I haven’t seen it (laughing). Look, I suffer from the disadvantage that I’m there every day.

HH: (laughing)

CT: I mean, this would all probably make more sense to me if I wasn’t there. I’ve not seen any embarrassment, I haven’t seen any dysfunctional, any evidence that the Court is dysfunctional. And so I can’t, I really can’t comment on something that’s not happening.
4. Hewitt asks Thomas if he reads the blogs! He says "no," then backtracks":
No….some of them. You know, occasionally I’ll read something, but not that much.

HH: And do your colleagues? Or are they still practicing Supreme Court jurisprudence the old fashioned way, via the briefs and not public opinion?
Are the lawprof blogs really "public opinion"? This gets Thomas off the subject of blogs and back to the denial that he lets public opinion affect his decisions. But the law blogs contain legal arguments. Sometimes...

5. Hewitt asks Thomas if he's "aware of the war," which seems like a ridiculous question, but what he means is does the knowledge of the war affect his judging. But then, Hewitt poses a really insightful question:
HH: I was…when I was reading My Grandfather’s Son, I had an unusual question that I wrote down. Do you understand the jihadists who are these angry, young men, who are locked out of opportunity, who suffer discrimination of the worst sort, and who really have nowhere to go except into this sort of conflict?

CT: Well, I can’t say that I understand them. I do know that for example in this country, and I make this point in the whole portion of the book in 1968, when I talk about being drawn into this whole notion of black power, and that is that you know, when you feel locked out, you do gravitate toward things that feel, that seem empowering. At least that’s the way it was for me. I can’t speak for others. And so this black power notion made you feel, it was invigorating, and it made you feel empowered. And it could also be debilitating, as I found out later, or self-destructive. But I can’t speak for them, but I know in my own case, it was sort of something similar to that, but not nearly as, I guess, as universal.
6. And Hewitt's got a theory about Anita Hill:
HH: I want to try out my theory on you, and maybe you can comment or not, but that she had told little lies to explain failures that got out of hand, and she had to defend them. Does that make sense to you?

CT: That makes sense, but you know, again, I can’t, I have not gotten into whether or not…I could speculate, but I think it would probably, it would be remiss if I did so.
We don't get to hear his speculation, of course.

7. Hewitt asks him if he likes George Bush:
I admire anybody who stands up and leads. Now you can always disagree with a person here or there, but I admire anybody who gets in a position and actually tries to lead.
There's some faint praise!

32 comments:

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm first. Read me your post.

Windbag said...

I admire anybody who stands up and leads.

Hitler led, Nero led, Napoleon led, Stalin led. Does Thomas admire these guys? And does that leave out FDR?

Never use superlatives.

peter hoh said...

Very faint praise, indeed.

Zach said...

Hewitt is an extremely good interviewer. Notice the proportion of the transcript that he takes up, compared to the portion Thomas takes up. He'd obviously read the book and had specific parts that he wanted Thomas to talk about, but he lets Thomas take the questions where he wants to go.

Zeb Quinn said...

Do you understand the jihadists who are these angry, young men, who are locked out of opportunity, who suffer discrimination of the worst sort, and who really have nowhere to go except into this sort of conflict?

Bogus premise. Hewitt just went down a notch in my estimation.

B said...

Ann,

I MUST respectfully correct you on Hewitt and his view of Toobin's "The Nine".

Hugh interviewed Jeffrey Toobin last week on his show and highly recommends the book.

Though he took issue with a few of Toobin's characterizations, Hugh was absolutely glowing about certain passages and several times told his listeners that it is a "must-read".

In fact, here's a quote from the Hewitt/Toobin interview:

Hewitt:And what I love about this book, in fact, the best part about it, it almost makes you weep when you realize what happened to Justice O’Connor’s husband. I used to live on California Street up near Calorama, and I’d see them out and about. And this is a human tragedy, really, to have to have that kind of career cabined by your great husband and much beloved husband’s decline. It was just wonderful writing, Jeffrey Toobin, but we’ll come back and argue some more about these other two.

--------------------------

Most interesting exchange:

Jeffrey Toobin: Well, I think journalists deceive people all the time. . .

HH: That was a stunning statement. Do you think journalists deceive people all the time?

JT: Well, I think some of them do, yeah. . .


--------------------------------

I bought my copy at Barnes and Noble on the way home to begin reading tonight.

B said...

to continue . . .

I believe that Hugh, in the interview today with Thomas, didn't mean to say that that he didn't think much of the book, but that he didn't think much of three specific characterizations in the book.

I have spoken with Hugh in person several times (we have some common friends), seen him live in debates, been present at his broadcast, and while he a is very quick thinker, sometimes you have to travel at the speed of his thought patterns to keep up and understand what he means.

But I've heard that's not always uncommon with litigators and Law Professors . . .

dick said...

I disagree with you as to whether that characterization of Bush is faint praise or not. It seems to me that in his position which is sort of off the point of whether he supports Bush or not - and he should not really say whether he does or not since he is a Supreme Court judge - that what he is saying is that if the man is leading, then he is doing what he should be doing and should be supported.

As for the statement of Windbag, Churchill and Washington and Grant and Lincoln also led. Pointing out the negatives does a big disservice. Did you want Thomas to make lengthy statements in an ad hoc situation or give the essence of his feelings about someone who is in a position of leadership. If they are in the position of leadership, then they should lead. Makes perfect sense to me. You can then sit there and pick out all the ones who led the wrong direction in your view but that was not the question that was asked nor was that the position that was followed up. You also need to look to the fact that Stalin was on our side when he led during WW II. Would you have turned down his support in that case because you did not like the way he led? Many of the leftists in our government and other high positions did support the way Stalin led at the time.

Tim said...

"There's some faint praise!"

Why would any Justice for whom the politics of his being a Justice are still raw in the minds of too many Americans say anything stronger? His earlier response to Hewitt's question regarding Anita Hill suggests he just wasn't going to say anything provocative.

Simon said...

B, if you go to the link Ann posted, you'll find the following exchange between Thomas and Hewitt about Toobin's book:

"HH: Have you had a chance to read Jeff Toobin’s new book, The Nine?

CT: Oh, no, and I won’t have time.

HH: (laughing) Well…

CT: I know you didn’t think much of it.

HH: No, I didn’t
, and I like Jeff Toobin, but I thought it was just very unfair to a number of your colleagues.
"

(Emphasis added)

reader_iam said...

Pointing out the negatives does a big disservice.

Does it, necessarily?

I think presenting negatives OR positives in a vacuum, absent the other, is more problematic.

B said...

Simon,

My second comment above was written to explain the very quote you cited.

I will see if I can get through to Hugh next week to clear it up.

hdhouse said...

Much as I have 27 snarky comments at the ready, I'm just going to refrain and enjoy my day. Can someone make this obsession with all things CT stop? Please?

no one said...

I’m supposed to somehow include my race in my judging, but the religion, you don’t include in your judging. I don’t think you should include either in your judging, and I don’t.

Clarence Thomas is lying.

AllenS said...

"Can someone make this obsession with all things CT stop? Please?"

Don't frequent this blog. That will make it stop. Last time I checked, Ann was chosing the topics. Not you.

Bissage said...

In a world of dominance and subordination, the ability to articulate faint praise with alacrity is a valuable survival skill.

hdhouse said...

ohh allens ...you silly pooh

i know full well that ann picks the topics. i was more referring to the HH interview.

as to not frequenting the blog, hmmmm the reason i do is to balance out the nitwit observations with liberal reason and rationality...its like a daily test. rightwing is to leftwing as (shall we say) allens is to feather?

Bissage said...

This is like this?

Bissage said...

Okay, now that I’ve let slip the dogs of (well-intended but doubtless unwelcome)pedantry, Windbag, that was an overgeneralization, if anything, not a superlative.

That’s it, I’ll stop now.

Bissage said...

Now that I've fallen off the wagon, yet again, I've got to place a call to my know-it-alls anonymous sponsor.

We have to talk.

rcocean said...

1) Probably the best Thomas interview yet.

2)Hewitt really is a great interviewer. And he's a pretty good "Talk Show" host.

3)Thomas was not damning faint praise, he trying to be nonpolitical.
He probably would have said the same thing about Clinton. I'm surprised he didn't praise Bush for being a hard worker and a good family man.

Zeb Quinn said...

"Can someone make this obsession with all things CT stop? Please?"

Me, I'm noticing a 1:1 correlationship between those who say things like "Can someone make this obsession with all things CT stop?" and those who were complicit in rubbishing him 16 years ago, which make any of what they have to say dubious at best.

SMGalbraith said...

I’m supposed to somehow include my race in my judging, but the religion, you don’t include in your judging. I don’t think you should include either in your judging, and I don’t.

Clarence Thomas is lying.

Justice Thomas is Catholic.

The Catholic Church is against the death penalty.

Justice Thomas has upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Counter examples welcome.

SMG

hdhouse said...

Zeb Quinn said...
"Me, I'm noticing a 1:1 correlationship between those who say things like "Can someone make this obsession with all things CT stop?" and those who were complicit in rubbishing him 16 years ago, which make any of what they have to say dubious at best."

Well I said the "make it stop" part so I guess you are referring to me. 1:1 seems to me to be inaccurate...no? when you make generalizations like that your validity vanishes.

rcocean said...

I just wanted to praise Hewitt some more. Unlike some interviewers - I'm looking at you Charlie Rose - he never interrupts and he let Thomas speak.

Secondly, Hewitt knows the material and doesn't ask the obvious questions. He only spent maybe 5 minutes on Anita Hill.

Thirdly, Hewitt throughout his Toobin interview stated he liked the book but that Toobin's characterizations of Souter, Kennedy, and O'Conner diminished them. He was also disturbed by Toobin's negative portraits of Thomas and Scalia even though he obviously never talked to either man.

jimbino said...

CT: " I mean, this would all probably make more sense to me if I wasn’t there."

Thomas is an English major and can't manage to use subjunctive mood in contrary-to-fact constructions. One wonders how the hell he can deal with questions involving science and math in which he didn't even pretend to distinguish himself.

That said, the other justices only surpass him in such ignorance.

Luckyoldson said...

Hewitt asks him if he likes George Bush:

Thomas: "I admire anybody who stands up and leads. Now you can always disagree with a person here or there, but I admire anybody who gets in a position and actually tries to lead."

Guys like Hitler, Arafat, Bin Laden, Hussein...?

What a bizarre response to a direct question about the President of the United States.

Luckyoldson said...

rcocean,
Hewitt's just another righ wing hack.

And that's exactly why you,love the guy.

Jeff Westcott said...

I found it interesting that Justice Thomas basically came out of the closet as West Coast Straussian. Who knew?

Luckyoldson said...

Hugh Hewett...right wing hack:

Writes for Townhall.com and World Net Daily.

Worked as a ghostwriter for Richard Nixon

Hewitt worked in the Reagan White House.

Assistant to Edwin Meese.

Overseer to the construction of the Richard M. Nixon Library.

*Whay not just have Scalia interview Thomas?

Ralph said...

Thomas is an English major
A common mistake, particularly when speaking. He admits that he ain't up to snuff:
HH: You did. And when was that project [learning standard English] complete? When did you feel like you had finally hit what the good Father wanted you to hit?

CT: You know, I don’t think that we ever hit that point. It took me years, and I mean years of hard, hard work to just be able to write standard English. And in fact, the reason I majored in English at Holy Cross, and again, that was my worst subject matter area throughout college, was because I did not know how to use English sufficiently well, at least in my mind, to go in life. So I majored in English in order to get over that barrier. But you know, I don’t think we’re ever, we’ve ever perfected that, so it’s something that I still continue to think about and to work on.

Gedaliya said...

The Catholic Church is against the death penalty.

Not as a matter of moral principle. The Church's opposition to the death penalty is situational, i.e., it is against the death penalty except when it must be imposed for actual self-defense. If there alternative methods of self-defense, the Church considers the death penalty morally unacceptable. When there are not, the Church considers the death penalty to be morally acceptable, perhaps even imperative.

Here Avery Cardinal Dulles outlines the Church position quite succinctly:

Catholicism and the Death Penalty

Excerpts:

The Catholic magisterium does not, and never has, advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. I know of no official statement from popes or bishops, whether in the past or in the present, that denies the right of the State to execute offenders at least in certain extreme cases. The United States bishops, in their majority statement on capital punishment, conceded that “Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the State has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime.” Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, in his famous speech on the “Consistent Ethic of Life” at Fordham in 1983, stated his concurrence with the “classical position” that the State has the right to inflict capital punishment.

. . .

...The [capital punishment] doctrine remains what it has been: that the State, in principle, has the right to impose the death penalty on persons convicted of very serious crimes. But the classical tradition held that the State should not exercise this right when the evil effects outweigh the good effects. Thus the principle still leaves open the question whether and when the death penalty ought to be applied. The Pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good...