Justice Clarence Thomas is a blessing to the Supreme Court. Noteworthy is not only his judicial restraint, but also his push back at “another false racial narrative that has gained popularity in this Age of Wokeness.”
In the WSJ, Jason L. Riley outlines how Justice Clarence Thomas’s writings bust the popular left-wing myths on race and justice.
Liberals today are eager to highlight how the filibuster was used in the past to block civil-rights legislation.
Gun Control Measures
(Thomas’s) concurrence in McDonald v. Chicago, a 2010 case about handgun restrictions offered a succinct tutorial on gun-control measures put in place after the Civil War to suppress blacks and leave them more vulnerable to domestic terror groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
In Box v. Planned Parenthood, a 2019 case that concerned the legality of “selective” abortions based on race and sex, his concurring opinion included a history of the eugenics movement in the U.S. and how it made common cause with abortion-rights activists.
(Liberals) don’t want to talk about the racist history of gun control or minimum-wage laws or abortion advocacy, let alone how this history still affects blacks today.
Eight decades after Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger established a birth-control clinic in Harlem, Justice Thomas wrote, “there are areas of New York City in which black children are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born alive—and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children in the same area.”
Democratic opposition to the filibuster is based less on principle than on political expediency. The Senate is split evenly, and the filibuster stands in the way of a far-reaching progressive agenda. Part of that agenda involves so-called criminal-justice reform, which to liberals means defunding the police, prosecuting fewer crimes, and reducing the size of the prison population by releasing inmates early.
Racist Mass Incarceration
The Justice Thomas’s opinion last week in Terry v. U.S undercuts the claim that “mass incarceration” policies were motivated by racism, argues Mr. Riley.
Justice Thomas’s opinion last week in Terry undercuts that claim by providing a more accurate history of sentencing laws than the fictions being peddled of late by Democrats and progressive activists.
The court unanimously rejected a petition, from a convicted crack-cocaine dealer named Tarahrick Terry, to be resentenced under the First Step Act, a 2018 federal law that reduced sentences for certain drug offenders. In his opinion, Justice Thomas wrote that the text of the law made this a “straightforward” case. Mr. Terry had been sentenced as a “career criminal” for an offense that fell outside the scope of the First Step Act and thus was ineligible for a sentence reduction.
Crack Cocaine vs Powder Cocaine
Justice Thomas’s ruling for stiffer sentencing guidelines for crack-cocaine offenses versus those for powder cocaine date to the mid-1980s, Mr. Riley reminds readers.
The thinking in Washington at the time was that because crack was cheaper than powder, more addictive and more closely associated with violent crime, offenders should face tougher penalties. Like everything else these days, such attitudes are viewed almost exclusively through a racial lens, but as Justice Thomas points out, the sentiment at the time transcended both race and party affiliation.
From Justice Clarence Thomas:
“In response to these concerns, Congress quickly passed a bill with near unanimity. The new law created mandatory-minimum penalties for various drug offenses, and it set much lower trigger thresholds for crack offenses.”
As Mr. Riley details, the Democrat-controlled House passed the 1986 bill 392-16 and the Republican-controlled Senate 97-2.
Support of Congressional Back Caucus
“A majority of the Congressional Black Caucus cosponsored and voted for the bill,” wrote Justice Thomas.
Many black leaders at the time were motivated by two major worries.
#1: “Crack was fueling crime against residents of inner cities, who were predominantly black.”
#2: “There were concerns that prosecutors were not taking these kinds of crimes seriously enough because the victims were disproportionately black.”
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