26 June 2009

And another multiple choice question

Is Clarence Thomas...

A. Insane
B. An Idiot

I've actually read his dissent in Safford v. Redding and found it truly shocking – well beyond the expectations I would already have for Thomas. School officials strip-searched a 13 year-old girl, including making her pull back the elastic on her bra and underwear, all in a failed attempt to locate the suspected Ibuprofen – yes, that's right, the contraband they were explicitly looking for was Ibuprofen – that they could not find in her backpack or clothing. The Court in its 8-1 decision found this a violation of the girl's 4th amendment rights. But not Thomas. His logic goes like this:

The reasonable suspicion that Redding possessed the pills for distribution purposes did not dissipate simply because the search of her backpack turned up nothing. It was eminently reasonable to conclude that the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look (emphasis added).

That is some powerful logic. Well, it's powerful at least if you are using a logic textbook written by Orwell or Kafka. It's conspiracy theory and Bush-like authority theory elevated to the level of Supreme Court decision.


tenaciousmcd said...

"Shocking" is the right word, especially when you look at Souter's majority opinion, which bends over backward to avoid overt blame to the school officials even while banning this kind of search in the future. Thomas, I think, is just a narcissist inhabiting an authoritarian bubble.

Today's 5-4 is a much harder call: requiring the testimony of lab scientists in court to verify procedures at trial under the "confrontation" clause. I suspect they got it right, but it was an odd mix on each side, and my boy, Breyer, went the other way (w/ Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito). The key Q for me: should this be a court ordered or legislatively secured right?

Ryan McIntyre said...

Sam, you forgot a third choice:

C) both insane AND and idiot

I choose C.