I ACCUSE YOU, CLARENCE THOMAS!
Published in slightly different form under the title “I Accuse ...!” in Flagpole Magazine, p. 8 (October 18, 2006).
Author: Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.
A Letter to the Hon. Clarence Thomas,
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
My dear Mr. Justice Thomas,
With all respect, will you permit me to express candidly my concerns
about your proclivity for demeaning human rights? Will you allow
me to tell you frankly, sir, that because of your relentless hostility
to human rights claims you are a painful embarrassment to the Court you
sit on, to America’s heritage of liberty, and to the rule of law?
In two previous Flagpole articles, one published on April 30, 2003, the
other on May 28, 2003, I examined at length your benighted judicial
voting record and your strange anti-human rights
philosophy. Since then you have continued in human rights
cases to vote systematically in favor of assertions of government power
and against claims of individual liberty, especially in the context of
criminal procedure where you rule in favor of the government nearly 90%
of the time. (The grim statistics are in 31 Hastings Const. L. Q.
499 (2004) and 32 Hastings Const. L. Q. 909 (2005)).
■ In Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004), you were
one of the four dissenters from the decision of the Court. In
your judgment, aliens imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay were beyond the
reach of the writ of habeas corpus.
■ In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004), in
which the Court held that due process required that an American
citizen, detained without charges indefinitely and incommunicado in a
high-security military prison as an “enemy combatant,” solely on the
authority of President Bush, be given meaningful opportunity to contest
the factual basis for his detention, you were the only dissenter.
You were the only Justice to hold that Hamdi should be denied habeas
corpus relief outright and the only Justice to conclude that it would
be constitutional to deny a detainee both access to counsel and notice
of the factual basis for the government’s determination that he was an
■ In Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600 (2004), you
were one of the four Justices who dissented from the Court’s decision,
which invalidated an outrageous police protocol for custodial
interrogation under which police, in violation of the Miranda decision,
would deliberately not give the Miranda warnings to suspects until
after they had been interrogated and confessed.
■ In Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), you were
one of the four Justices who dissented from the Court’s decision that
the execution of youths who were under 18 at the time of their capital
crime is unconstitutional.
■ In House v. Bell, 126 S. Ct. 2064 (2006), you were
one of three Justices who dissented from the decision of the Court to
permit a death row inmate to proceed on his federal habeas corpus
petition where newly discovered evidence, including DNA evidence that
directly contradicted the case the prosecution presented at the
inmate’s murder trial, indicated the inmate was innocent.
■ In Hudson v. Michigan, 126 S. Ct. 2159 (2006), you
were part of the five-Justice majority which held that when police
violate the Fourth Amendment by effecting no-knock entry into a home to
serve a search warrant, the evidence obtained inside will now be
admissible in court.
■ In Kansas v. Marsh, 126 S.Ct. 2516 (2006), you
wrote the opinion for the five-Justice majority upholding a statute
which permits a death sentence to be imposed where the mitigating
factors and the aggravating factors are in a state of equipoise.
■ In U.S. v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 126 S.Ct. 2557 (2006),
you joined three other Justices who dissented from the Court’s decision
that denying a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to retain the
counsel of his choice is always reversible error.
■ In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S.Ct. 2749 (2006), you
dissented from the Court’s holding that the military commissions
established by President Bush to try suspected terrorists detained at
Guantanamo Bay violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and
the Geneva Convention. In your judgment, the kangaroo court
procedures permitted by those military commissions were perfectly legal.
Therefore, Justice Thomas,
I accuse you of being the most reactionary Supreme Court Justice since Justice McReynolds.
I accuse you of callousness to the rights of individuals and minorities.
I accuse you of itching to overrule some of the most
important pro-human rights decisions ever decided by the Supreme Court.
I accuse you of being a rubber stamp for the police,
a lapdog of prosecutors, and a sock puppet of prison wardens.
I accuse you of regarding yourself as more a
foot-soldier in the war on drugs and crime than a judge sworn to
protect the rights of all Americans.
I accuse you of giving judicial approval to
lawlessness in law enforcement and to the use of illegal means to
enforce the criminal laws.
I accuse you of adulating capital punishment and of
being the Supreme Court Justice most likely to uphold a death sentence.
I accuse you of implacable hostility to the writ of
habeas corpus and of being the Supreme Court Justice most likely to
rule against a person seeking habeas relief.
I accuse you being the Supreme Court Justice most
likely to vote against and even ridicule the legal claims of minority
groups or prisoners seeking relief in your Court.
I accuse you of being the Supreme Court Justice most
likely to rule against black criminal defendants and black prisoners.
I accuse you of being the first Supreme Court
Justice to criticize, albeit indirectly, the 1954 Brown v. Board of
I accuse you of being the Supreme Court Justice most
likely to rule against a black or minority person raising a civil
rights claim or a claim based on the Voting Rights Act.
I accuse you of an appalling lack of sympathy for the poor, the oppressed, and the powerless.
I accuse you of being a right-wing extremist masquerading as an neutral magistrate.
I accuse you of deciding cases, not on the basis of
the law or the facts or precedents, but based on your extreme
I accuse you of behaving on the Supreme Court as
though the platform of your political party was the nation’s
I accuse you of having been deceptive and evasive at
your judicial confirmation hearings so that you could acquire the power
you now utilize to subvert human rights protections.
Finally, sir, I accuse you of being a cruel judge in
the tradition of Nicholas Eymeric, Conrad of Marburg, and George
In making these accusations, sir, I have two goals. First, I hope
to make as many Americans as possible aware of your lamentable judicial
voting record and the inhumane philosophy underlying it. Second,
I hope, I pray, that somehow I can assist in transforming you into
a friend of liberty. Right-wing justice, you must
understand, is not justice.
Sir, I beseech you to change direction and follow the path of the
beloved Justice Thurgood Marshall. Stop exalting state power;
cease attempting to reverse the historical trend of judicially
expanding human rights; and jettison the social darwinism that makes
you coldly indifferent to the plight of minorities, the economically
disadvantaged, and the politically weak when their basic rights are
Please, sir, leave the right-wing darkness and emerge into the liberal
daylight. The cause of liberty, justice, rights, and freedom
beckons you. Shake off your anti-humanitarian attitudes, sir, so
that posterity will bless not curse you, and so that among future
generations your name will be revered rather than infamous!