March 23, 2008

"Clarence Thomas leaps from his chair. He retrieves a wire coat hanger from his closet...."

He has a little demonstration for you:
He bends it and says: "How do you compensate? So, you say well, deal with it. Bend this over here. Oh, wait a minute, bend it a little bit there. And you're saying that it throws everything out of whack. What do you do?"
Here's what I do:



What's wire hangers doing in this closet? I'm glad you care about not bending the Constitution out of shape but.... wire hangers, why? Why? We put you on the most beautiful Court in the world. We give you these beautiful robes, and you treat them like they were some dishrag. The other Justices may treat the Constitution like it was some dishrag, but wire hangers, why? Why?

42 comments:

amba said...

Abortion rights crusaders will have a field day with that Freudian slip of a metaphor . . .

George said...

"[Jesus] set me free to be me. I can't be a colored coon on the faculty at Vanderbilt with no sense of pride. And I can't be a Supreme Court judge called long dong silver who disrespects black women and himself. I got to be me. I can't be a lyin' five-star general who leads an entire nation into war on a lie. And I can't be a sec of state who goes shopping on Broadway while folks are drowning in New Orleans--I got to be me."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright
January 27, 2008, Sermon
From 'The New Republic'

former law student said...

emphasized the need for judges with "heart" and "empathy" for the less fortunate, judges willing to favor the disempowered.

While Obama definitely wants justices who can put themselves in the shoes of someone who is poor, none of his statements can be stretched to imply he wants judges to favor anybody. Maybe the WSJ authors are speaking from their own guilt in supporting favors for the powerful.

Obama: We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.

And part of the role of the Court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout.
. . . [S]ometimes we're only looking at academics or people who've been in the [lower] court. If we can find people who have life experience and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that's the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court.

former law student said...

"[Jesus] set me free to be me.
Praise Jesus!

George said...

The reference to the Vanderbilt faculty member may be to this law professor. She supported Gov. Huckabee in the primaries.

Absolutely shameful rhetoric from the pulpit, particularly in the context of being set free by Jesus. Set free to use a position of Christian leadership to insult other people?

And Sen. Obama taught Constitutional Law. How could he stomach such comments?

Joe said...

FLS:

If you read what you quoted without the Obama-coloured glasses, it sounds very much like Obama wants Justices who will "favor" the parties he lists.

The role of the Court is not, nor has it ever been (except in the imaginations of certain liberals), to "protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process."

Now, Althouse:
Just because Justice Thomas has wire hangers in his closet does not mean that he uses them for those beautiful robes. He could very well have some other clothes in the closet of his office for which the wire hangers are intended. Let's not jump to conclusions.

rhhardin said...

Wire coat hangers are like a heart. When you bend them, you can't mend them.

No McGarrigle video, but this one is okay.

Skeptical said...

Don't be hard on the poor justice, Ann. He's not hanging his robes on them; guys have closets full of wire hangers from the shirts they get back from the laundry. Those little bastards accumulate. I'm glad he could find good use for one: as a metaphor.

Meade said...

It's 3 am and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a so-called originalist on the Court and he's a fan of the Cornhuskers, the Dallas Cowboys and Nascar.

And, apparently, wire hangers.

Which, among other things, distinguishes him from bipolar narcissistically disordered Hollywood child abusers.

So you too can sleep safe and sound.

Gahrie said...

And part of the role of the Court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout.

This has got to be the scariest shit I've read in twenty years.....this guy has a legitemate chance to be president and appoint two or three justices.....

Richard Fagin said...

Proffie Dearest

former law student said...

If you read what you quoted without the Obama-coloured glasses, it sounds very much like Obama wants Justices who will "favor" the parties he lists.

The only way that would make sense is if the current court could be considered to favor the rich and powerful, which I reject. The court should reflect a variety of experiences and points of view. We already have one Justice, Scalia, who has Cheney for a hunting buddy. Thomas is the only person on the court who grew up poor.

The role of the Court is not, nor has it ever been ... to "protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process."

Tell it to the Concerned Women for America. They would disagree.: 4/18/2007

Washington, D.C. — Concerned Women for America (CWA) applauds the Supreme Court decision today to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortion. The court has voted in favor of protecting the most vulnerable members of society from inhumane and extremely painful death.

Elliott A said...

It is amazing that a Con. Law professor would imply that the court would look kindly or empathetically on any individual or group. The very image of a justice is one of impartiality and fairness. That doesn't imply that they can't be human. However, preconceived sensitivities would not bode to well in a justice.

At least, the closeness of the race will assure teh republicans will have enough senate seats to block poor choices if obama is elected. McCain has several Dems from the gang of 14 who will help with his picks.

Trooper York said...

Joan Crawford: No... wire... hangers. What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you: no wire hangers EVER? I work and work 'till I'm half-dead, and I hear people saying, "She's getting old." And what do I get? A daughter... who cares as much about the beautiful dresses I give her... as she cares about me. What's wire hangers doing in this closet? Answer me. I buy you beautiful dresses, and you treat them like they were some dishrag. You do. Three hundred dollar dress on a wire hanger. We'll see how many you've got if they're hidden somewhere. We'll see... we'll see. Get out of that bed. All of this is coming out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. Out. You've got any more? We're gonna see how many wire hangers you've got in your closet. Wire hangers, why? Why? Christina, get out of that bed. Get out of that bed. You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood and you don't care if your clothes are stretched out from wire hangers. And your room looks like some two-dollar-a-week furnished room in some two-bit back street town in Okalahoma. Get up. Get up. Clean up this mess.
(Mommie Dearest, 1981)

former law student said...

I may be wrong, but I assume Obama is thinking of cases that levelled the playing field for the destitute, like Powell v. Alabama, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Griffin v. Illinois. Our magnificent adversarial legal system tends to favor those who can hire the most and the best legal talent. For example, Exxon has stretched the Valdez litigation out over 19 years -- their ability to afford the cost of litigation doesn't change their liability. Meanwhile many of those who suffered due to the wreck have died waiting for compensation.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Barack, that statue in front of the courthouse is blindfolded for a reason.

Chip Ahoy said...

Great analogy there, acting it out. I agree with no more wire hangers. They completely mess up a fine organized closet. My local dry cleaner has acquiesced to what they call my quirk in using my own hangers for things that must be hung, and simply folding all the shirts which is a standard option. Keeps the closets free of those self-tangling exponentially multiplying unregulated monstrosities. Good only for opening car doors in a pinch. Thomas's aides really need to take better care of him. Surreptitiously, if it gets to that. But brilliant analogy. His acting it out -- wonderful! That couldn't be done with a wooden hanger. I like this guy.

rhhardin said...

I wire have hangers in the closet, and old knit golf shirts and a fine 1968 JC Penny Hawaiian shirt bought in Honolulu (for formal dress occasions, should any ever come up), and a couple winter coats, and what doesn't fit goes on the closet floor.

Regular wear is in the laundry basket on the dresser. When the basket is empty, it's time to go down to the basement and throw all the stuff in the machine again.

A laundry chute takes care of the downward trip.

The basket is used for retrieving upwards.

A matched number of shirts pants and socks gives rotational efficiency and uniform wear.

Joe said...

FLS:

I'll skip the first part for the sake of brevity. I'm sure that you're sure that I think that I know that you're wrong.

The second bit:
[my original post]The role of the Court is not, nor has it ever been ... to "protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process."

[FLS's response]Tell it to the Concerned Women for America. They would disagree.


Ok ... so CWfA is wrong. What does that have to do with anything? It doesn't do anything to change my statement that the role of the Court is not to "protect" the "vulnerable."

You seem to assume that I fit whatever type you seem have in your head of "conservative," and that I would automatically agree with a statement against abortion.

It is unfortunate that you choose to engage in discussion in such a shallow manner. There's nothing to be gained from continuing here.

Fen said...

Barack, that statue in front of the courthouse is blindfolded for a reason.

Ah, but to Obama, that statue represents a government that "invented HIV as a means of genocide against people of color" and "gives drugs to black people to enslave and imprison them".

Joe said...

All my words, and Paul said it far better:

Barack, that statue in front of the courthouse is blindfolded for a reason.

Thank you, sir.

Christy said...

I thought empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old was for juries, not judges.

I just learned from a house stager that all the hangers in the closet should match, and I don't think she meant wire hangers. IKEA here I come.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The only way that would make sense is if the current court could be considered to favor the rich and powerful, which I reject. The court should reflect a variety of experiences and points of view.

The only point of view that the Court, Supreme or Civil should have is the law. Interpreting law in light of the Constitution and without bringing in personal points of view.

Period.

This is why we are in such a mess and divided in our country when the Justices take it upon themselves to nuance the laws and find penumbras according to ever changing popular positions.

I don't give rat's behind about their personal experiences as long as they leave them outside their job.

TMink said...

FLS wrote: "The court should reflect a variety of experiences and points of view."

On the contrary, the court should reflect the Constitution.

That is their job.

Trey

Fen said...

No, I see FLS's point.

Think of an NFL Superbowl where the refs refuse to consider a team's background: do they have a big indoor stadium, how is their salary cap, did they lose key players to injury, etc. All of these factors should be considered before enforcing the rules.

/s

former law student said...

I see fen's point. Think of an NFL Superbowl where the refs are poker buddies with one team, who they also shoot ducks with, play golf with, and enjoy brandy and cigars with. Then consider the other team that isn't buddy-buddy with the refs. All of these factors should be considered before enforcing the rules.

Middle Class Guy said...

"...with the Framers' design having been warped over the years by waves of judicial mischief."


That is probably the most truthful and important quote in the article. I will no longer use the lying phrase judicial activism. Forever more I will refer to it as jusicial mischief.

Fen said...

consider the other team that isn't buddy-buddy with the refs

Oh come on, FLS, do you truly believe that cronyism influences SCOTUS decisions?

Mortimer Brezny said...

He's black. He has wire hangers to unclog his toilet if need be.

joewxman said...

Up until now i never realized how much Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford looks so much like Cesaer Romero as the Joker!

The things you learn on Althouse.

former law student said...

do you truly believe that cronyism influences SCOTUS decisions?

Not per se. However, each Justice is influenced by his or her lifetime of experience when making decisions. Our forebears set the size of the court between six and nine justices, instead of one or three, most likely to represent the breadth of our nation. Justices who have had different life experiences reflect such breadth. Justices are now selected from the ranks of judges, who are in many ways isolated from the rough and tumble of every day existence -- the ability to hold people in contempt can do this. A latter-day Taft or Thurgood Marshall would both be excellent additions to the Court.

Taking up the other issue again: I believe few football fans would be content with a referee staff born and raised exclusively in New England, no matter how impartial the refs tried to be.

vnjagvet said...

The current Court fairly diverse in its political and legal philosophies, it seems to me.

Harvard and Yale law schools, however, are somewhat overrepresented (eight of nine).

former law student said...

vnjagvet: I was actually rooting for harriet miers -- a chick with an SMU law degree.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"Our forebears set the size of the court between six and nine justices, instead of one or three, most likely to represent the breadth of our nation. Justices who have had different life experiences reflect such breadth."

The size of the court was largely dictated by the requirement that Justices ride circuit, which meant that there had to be as many justices as circuits, and by politicking to manipulate opportunities of given Presidents to nominate members of the court. It wasn't because breadth of experience was valued per se.

vnjagvet said...

As Roman Hruska(R Neb)said of G. Harold Carswell:

So what if he is mediocre? There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters and stuff like that there.

Not to imply that Harriet Meyers was mediocre, FLS. She was apparently a widely respected lawyer in Texas who probably would have acquitted herself well on the bench.

After all, Robert Jackson had surprisingly similar qualifications, and I have always thought him a superior SC Justice.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

former law student said...
"vnjagvet: I was actually rooting for harriet miers -- a chick with an SMU law degree."

Unfortunately, that was virtually all she had. I was (and am) hoping for Diane Sykes -- Marquette, private practice, Wisconsin trial court, Supreme Court of Wisconsin, US 7th Cir.

Simon said...

vnjagvet, there's a lot of mediocre lawyers, judges, and people, and they are well-represented in the U.S. Congress. The mistakes in what Hruska said were (1) seeing the Supreme Court as being a representative organ, and (2) that there is any place for mediocrity on that bench.

There's no profit in bringing up Jackson - it's true that there have been people appointed to the bench who've done well. Rehnquist hadn't served a day as a judge until the end of his first day on the Supreme Court. It's equally true that there have been people who won the lottery, however; why gamble when the odds are against you? The Miers nomination, as Bork well put it, was "a disaster on every level" and "a slap in the face to the conservatives who’ve been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years." Well, we slapped back, and fortunately for the nation, the Miers nomination collapsed. I have disagreements with Justice Alito, but he's a fine jurist and a credit to the Supreme Court, compared to the total disaster that a crony appointment would have represented.

George said...

For what it's worth, Crawford's other living child, Cathy Crawford LaLonde, has very different memories of her mother.

Vanity Fair, March 2008

“I was the luckiest child in the world to have Mommie choose me,” said Cathy [who was adopted]. “I wouldn’t have chosen any other mother in the whole world, because I had the best one anyone could ever have. She gave me backbone and courage and so much I could never say it all, but—oh, my gosh—the most important gift she gave me was all of the wonderful memories to last and take me through my life.”

Middle Class Guy said...

"Clarence Thomas leaps from his chair. He retrieves a wire coat hanger from his closet...."


Be beats the recalcitrant reporter who keeps asking him the same stupid question over and over again after he answered it the first time. Justice!!!!!

vnjagvet said...

I guess I should have used the irony html tag in addition to italics for the Hruska quote, Simon. Next time I'll do better.

Why do you think Roosevelt took his chance with Jackson? I've always wondered about that.

BTW, Earl Warren was a prosecutor and Governor before being appointed to the Bench, and a lawgrad of Boalt. Hugo Black also had no judicial experience, and graduated from Univ of Alabama Law School. They, too turned out to make quite a name for themselves as justices, IIRC.

Revenant said...

Mr. Thomas faced one of the most destructive and personally vicious Supreme Court confirmation hearings in American history

I'm curious which ones were worse!