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Internet Radio >> Discover the Power >> Of Ideas

Justice Clarence Thomas: A Journey into American Ideals

Justice Clarence Thomas
United States Supreme Court

GUEST: James Valliant
San Diego-based prosecuting attorney
author of The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics

In his "dissenting opinion" in the Kelo vs New London eminent domain case, United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas takes us on a journey into the thinking and the spirit of the American Founding Fathers. With San Diego based attorney, James Valliant, we analyse Justice Thomas's approach and learn about how the framers of the American Constitution approached defending man's rights - defending it against the very kinds of people represented by Justice Stevens and the Supreme Court's majority opinion!

Topics covered include ...

  • Early influences on Justice Clarence Thomas include Thomas Sowell and Ayn Rand.
  • Framers of the American Constitution sought to create a scientific, rational way to achieve justice.
  • Reading Justice Thomas’s dissenting opinion in Kelo v New London is a journey into the soul of America.  A history lesson!
  • Thomas and  Scalia, in their decisions, will take the reader on an historical excursion of the way that the language was understood at the time of the writing of the constitution.
  • What did “public use” mean at the time of the writing of the constitution?
  • What did the Supreme Court majority decision do with the term?
  • Is the 5th Amendment about giving the government the permission to take property, or about limiting the government’s power to take it?
  • What did Justice Thomas have to say about this?
  • The 9th and 10th Amendments –> read the rights of the individual people broadly and the rights given to the government narrowly.
  • The purpose of the constitution as a whole is ... ?
  • The British Civil War. The development in Britain of a radical ideology that influenced the American Founding Fathers.
  • The Founders’ study of ancient history and how democracy was lost in Athens and the Republic was lost in ancient Rome.
  • Enlightenment scientists as statesmen.
  • Justice Thomas quotes Blackstone’s defense of private property as the foundation of law.
  • Rights are a unity.
  • The Campaign Finance Reform Bill – how it failed to understand the unity of rights. Commercial speech. Justice Thomas is the consistent advocate of free speech and property rights – the best Justice on the Supreme Court in these areas.
  • Thomas’s accusation that the majority decision on Kelo v New London seeks to eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution.
  • The intended purpose of the Supreme Court and how the court has broken loose from it’s moorings.
  • James Valliant’s one criticism of Thomas’s and Scalia’s “historical excursion” style.
  • Valliant says that more than any other Supreme Court Justice in recent memory, Clarence Thomas clearly understands that rights are an individual thing – it’s the individual that possesses rights.
  • Thomas’s entire conception of the constitution is as a limitation on government. 
  • Not all Supreme Court  Justices view the constitution in it’s total purpose as a limitation on government.
  • How to read the Constitution.
  • “Necessary and proper…” an elastic clause.
  • The inversion of the 5th Amendment by the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • The Supreme Court’s use of precedence to destroy the very constitutional rights they are charged to protect.

For study purposes - not necessarily as an endorsement

Kelo vs New London
Supreme Court of the United States: Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al.

  • Read the complete dissenting opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas
    html format        pdf format

  • Read the opinions of all the Supreme Court Justices here at the Legal Information Institute @ Cornell University Law School.

Speech by Justice Clarence Thomas
Given at James Madison University in 2001 on the eve of the 250th birthday of James Madison. Here is an excerpt for you ...

What is it about our Constitution that has allowed this great nation to enjoy unprecedented political stability and economic and social prosperity for more than two centuries?

There are two things that stand above all else: First, the principles upon which the American Constitutional order is based are universal principles, applicable to all people at all times ....

Second, Madison and other Framers made a significant advance in politics and political theory, an advance that allowed them to create a government strong enough to defend itself and the liberties of its people, yet limited enough, that it would itself not become the destroyer of the self same liberties.

  • Listen to Erich Veyhl discuss "Eminent Domain: Kelo vs London & the Logic of Destruction  >> click here

    Note from PRODOS: It was Erich Veyhl who first drew my attention to the arguments presented by Justice Clarence Thomas.

  • Listen to Joe Wright discuss "Eminent Domain: Exploiting the 5th Amendment to destroy property rights" >> click here

  • Justice Clarence Thomas Appreciation page >> click here

 ... Recommended (and sung) by PRODOS ...

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