Life, liberty and Justice Thomas
by Michael Goodwin, New York Post, August 25, 2019
There is no shortage of smart books about the rise of the administrative state. But it’s hard to imagine a more creative approach than juxtaposing this disturbing development against the life and judicial opinions of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In “Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution,” author Myron Magnet weaves together two distinct worlds. One is Thomas’ coming of age in segregated Georgia and the hard-knock lessons he learned from his grandfather.
We also see Thomas’ brief descent into youthful rage and his evolving embrace of the patriotic liberty enshrined in America’s founding documents.
The other world is the vast expansion of the liberty-crushing federal agencies that effectively make laws without the bother of legislation and enforce them without the bother of federal courts. The progressive visions of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR claim center stage, aided by a Congress that even now cedes too much power to unaccountable bureaucrats.
These two worlds collide when Thomas joins the court. In an efficient 168 hardcover pages, Magnet, a friend, demonstrates how Thomas, through his opinions, speeches and writings, wages war against this unholy power grab with the aim of restoring the Founders’ idea of limited government.
My first impression was that the book was too ambitious, but Magnet is in complete command of his material and has produced a very readable gem.
The feat is all the more remarkable because he did not interview Thomas. Instead, Magnet uses available biographical material to show how Thomas arrived at his understanding of the Constitution, one shaped by the unique abuses inflicted on African-Americans by excessive government power.
With Thomas now one of five conservative justices on the court, there is a chance to limit the bureaucrats’ reach. Whatever the outcome, this book is a brilliant road map