Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Monday, January 03, 2005

Eighth Grade Level Research

Soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid keeps digging his hole deeper and now deeper in his attempted smackdown of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas-backers have demanded evidence from Reid of a "poorly written" Thomas opinion to back Reid's statement of a month ago that Thomas's "poorly written" opinions render him an "embarrassment" on the Court.

James Taranto has the breakdown on the opinion Reid offered to back his words here:

An alert reader points out that on the Dec. 26 episode of "Inside Politics," a little-watched CNN show, Reid actually did name such an opinion, at the request of host Ed Henry (we've corrected several obvious transcription errors here):

Henry: When you were asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether or not you could support Justice Thomas to be chief justice you said quote, "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written." Could you name one of those opinions that you think is poorly written?

Reid: Oh sure, that's easy to do. You take the Hillside Dairy case. In that case you had a dissent written by Scalia and a dissent written by Thomas. There--it's like looking at an eighth-grade dissertation compared to somebody who just graduated from Harvard.

Scalia's is well reasoned. He doesn't want to turn stare decisis precedent 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.

Read to whole thing to get Taranto's full accounting of why Reid's example is comically inappropriate. In addition, Taranto includes this link to Thomas's extensively researched (especially compared to Reid's) and quite lengthy dissent in Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U.S. 564, 610 (1997) (Thomas, J., dissenting), which Thomas's short dissent points readers to in Hillside Dairy. Taranto concludes "We suppose Reid will find some staff knucklehead to take the fall for this appallingly shoddy research..."

Reid's ill-researched smear campaign is curious, mainly because it is so baldly apparent that Reid's assertions have no quantifiable foundation, but he keeps up the drumbeat regardless. Equally as curious is why Reid has not yet suffered the Trent Lott treatment (OK, not so curious since Reid is a Democrat). Without apparent consequence, perhaps Reid feels he has nothing to lose. And with this a possibility, it is likely Reid is just laying the groundwork, baseless as it might be, to discourage President Bush from pursuing the idea. With Justice Thomas smeared, who needs to expose the political and racial motivations (allowing a Republican to appoint the first black Supreme Court Chief Justice, a minority jurist who has the audacity to be a conservative) that are the true basis of Reid's actions.


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