What the justice has achieved in three decades on the Supreme Court
In September 1991, within days of the commencement of Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, construction began on Boston’s ambitious “Big Dig” highway project. Justice Thomas’s confirmation a month later set into motion another big dig — his painstaking, careful, and relentless quest to unearth, clause by clause, issue by issue, the original meaning of the Constitution of the United States.
The two projects were animated by radically different goals. By relocating Interstate 93 into a subterranean tunnel, Boston’s Big Dig sought to bury the mistakes of the past. By excavating and removing layer upon layer of erroneous constitutional doctrine, Justice Thomas’s big dig has sought to expose them to the light of day.
Nicole Stelle Garnett is the John P. Murphy Foundation professor of law at University of Notre Dame and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images