Clarence Thomas Just Set Civil Rights Back 70 Years

Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP (Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is raising eyebrows and getting plenty of eye rolls for his comments on a landmark Court decision that helped invigorate the Civil Rights Movement.

On May 23, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in the case of Alexander vs. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP and reversed a lower court decision suggesting that race was a factor in recent congressional redistricting in South Carolina. The Court’s six conservative judges voting together in the majority. The NAACP told Newsweek that the decision was a “severe blow” and “gut punch” to democracy and the American people.

Justice Thomas took time to cosign Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the Court, writing a concurring opinion claiming that the courts should have nothing to do with how political districts are designed.

“Drawing political districts is a task for politicians, not federal judges,” Thomas wrote. “There are no judicially manageable standards for resolving claims about districting, and, regardless, the Constitution commits those issues exclusively to the political branches.”

But then, he made comments that singlehandedly set the Civil Rights Movement Thomas went on to blame the problem with these kinds of cases on the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which banned racial segregation in public schools.

Thomas claimed that in the case of the Brown decision, the court went too far calling the ruling an example of the court’s “extravagant uses of judicial power… at odds with the history and tradition of the equity power and the Framers’ design.”

The original Brown decision argued that racial segregation goes against the 14th Amendment to Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law. But Thomas has long argued that there’s nothing wrong with the idea of “separate but equal.”

“Racial isolation” itself is not a harm; only state-enforced segregation is. After all, if separation itself is a harm, and if integration therefore is the only way that Blacks can receive a proper education, then there must be something inferior about Blacks. Under this theory, segregation injures Blacks because Blacks, when left on their own, cannot achieve. To my way of thinking, that conclusion is the result of a jurisprudence based on a theory of black inferiority,” he said in 2004.

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