May 7, 2002


Who's Afraid of Clarence Thomas? (Nat Hentoff, May 6, 2002, Jewish World Review)
In March, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted an invitation to spend a day in discussions with law students and faculty at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill. The school's five black law professors boycotted Thomas' visit.

Few Americans, including law students, ever get to see a Supreme Court Justice in person; they can't watch how they conduct oral arguments before deciding a case because the justices refuse to allow television cameras within their sacred precincts.

So why would any law professors, of any color, give up a chance to join their students in direct exchanges with one of the nine Americans who make decisions that affect millions of us for many years to come?

Marilyn Yarbrough, one of the boycotting professors, told Tony Mauro, the very resourceful Supreme Court reporter for "Legal Times:" "We just questioned whether breaking bread with a justice was the appropriate thing for us to do."

After all, she continued, the only black justice on the Court has "lent cover" to his conservative colleagues by joining their "anti-progressive" decisions. "Since we are all black," said Yarbrough, "we did not want to lend cover to him. We have welcomed justices we disagree with, such as Antonin Scalia and Sandra Day O'Connor." However, joining Thomas, she explained, would have been seen as an endorsement, or at least a tacit approval, of his views.

Note first the presumption in the notion that conservatives need someone to provide "cover" for their views, but also, isn't punishing a black person (I know, but let's pretend not getting to break bread with these idiots was a punishment) for holding views that would not earn a white person a similar punishment a form of racial discrimination? Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2002 6:43 AM
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