See, why do people have to put these things into my head

I know that this will never happen, but now, I want it to.  A couple of Above the Law writers are advocating Clarence Thomas for president. 

The Republican Party is in disarray, with no clear message — as shown in last week’s primaries — and with no obvious candidate to challenge President Obama in 2012. Thomas could be the GOP’s new standard-bearer. He has enviable name recognition, both as a long-serving justice and as the author of the bestselling 2007 autobiography “My Grandfather’s Son.” And he has already survived the nasty political attacks that marked his 1991 confirmation hearings.

A Thomas candidacy would bring racial diversity and a moving personal story to the Republican ticket. Thomas was born into poverty in Pin Point, Ga. He didn’t have indoor plumbing until he moved to Savannah to live with his grandparents at age 7.

“[My grandfather] told us that if we learned how to work, we would be able to live as well as he and Aunt Tina did when we grew up,” Thomas wrote in his memoir. “. . . Our first task was to get a good education, so that we could hold down a ‘coat-and-tie-job,’ and he wouldn’t listen to any excuses for failure.” Through hard work and a dedication to education, including degrees from Holy Cross College and Yale Law School, Thomas became a distinguished lawyer and public servant.

Thomas is well suited for political office. On the nation’s highest court, he has had to reflect and rule on the country’s most divisive issues. He also has political experience predating the court. He worked as an assistant attorney general in Missouri and then for the Reagan administration in the Department of Education and as head of the EEOC.

I’d be terrible if he risked it and lost (although, as Glenn Reynolds points out– who says he has to step down to run?)- we just couldn’t allow Obama to appoint his replacement.  And he would lose- as I’ve said before, as a minority who isn’t liberal, he represents something that the liberals know they must destroy.   But, oh! the justices that a president Thomas would appoint. 

Ilya Somin doesn’t think it’s a good idea for mostly the same reasons I don’t. (No real discussion of how he would actually be as president, though).

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Why I’m Not All That Concerned About The New Allegations of Democratic Racism

My piece in NewsBlaze where I (with no small measure of personal discomfort) defend Harry Reid

According to the book Game Changers, Harry Reid described Barack Obama during the presidential election as a black candidate who would benefit from his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

The book also quotes Bill Clinton, by way of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, as stating, in reference to the man who was then challenging the former president’s wife for the nomination, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”

Both of these remarks are being heralded as signs of racism deep within these two powerful of Democrats. But are they really? Let’s take them one by one.

You can read the rest here: http://newsblaze.com/story/20100111080128lyss.nb/topstory.html

Please let me know what you think!

Update: Ann Althouse and Eugene Volokh spar over the actually meaning of the word “racism.”  (My answer: 42).

“If the KKK were in charge they could come up with no better way to keep black America from economic success.”

Commenter Duke says, of a Volokh post about a $150,000 settlement against a school for failing to stop black students from harassing other black students for “acting white” (with “acting white” being defined as doing well in school). 

I don’t know how common this is.  Several comments on the Volokh post from former educators claim to have seen this a lot, although I mentioned it to a black law student friend (who, as a high achiever and very clean-living sort (very religious), would have appeared to fit the “acting white” mold quite well), and he claimed not to know what I was talking about.  However, he was the product of a very religious education and had never attended public school, so maybe he was out of the loop. 

I’d like to think that, with all the problems President Obama presents to the country, he is, as a educationally successful, articulate, and slightly nerdy man, as well as a responsible father and husband, going to counteract that mindset.  I hope.

Added: In this video, Glenn Beck interviews Charles Payne about his experiences with this phenomenon growing up.  The story of a little boy wanting a briefcase just warms this redhaired nerd’s heart.  Fortunately, Mr. Payne didn’t let that attitude keep him down.

Apparently, Flag Burning is a really pressing problem these days

Eugene Volokh has the story of Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who is apparently now pushing to revive the old, seemingly settled debate on flag dessicration. 

(Just as a quick primer for you non-law geeks: restrictions on flag-burning (other than, of course, those that would protect safety, etc.) were officially invalidated in the 1989 case of Texas v. Johnson, as a violation of the First Amendment.  Although this is usually thought of as a liberal verses conservative issue, the court split somewhat unusually, with Justice Stevens taking the position that flag burning was not protected, and Justice Scalia joining Brennan, Blackmun, Marshall, and Kennedy in the majority’s determination that it was protected speech.)

Representative Emerson’s proposed amendment is: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

I’d like to start by saying that I am a radical lover of all things American.  The thought of someone burning a flag sickens and disgusts me; I would be more than happy to go to any person who is burning a flag and exercise my free speech rights by telling them exactly what I think, and it would not be pretty.  But, that is the purpose, the goal, the workings of a free society- we can exchange ideas, even ones that we don’t like, and we all benefit from it. 

Now, certainly if the Constitution were amended, the ruling in Johnson would be null and void, but that does not mean that this proposal is without its problems. 

First, is this really a problem?  My general opinion of government’s role is that it should be basically limited to protecting citizens from having their rights infringed by others.  Obviously, that’s a broad umbrella, but I simply fail to understand who is being hurt, and who would be helped, by solving this “problem.”  If no other flag was burned in this country for the rest of my life, I can’t see how we would benefit. 

Second, Professor Volokh points out that the potential problems with a slippery slope and what he calls “censorship envy,” the idea that if one person or group gets to ban ideas/expressions/symbols that offend them, then others should get to do the same.  As the professor puts it, “The [First] Amendment is a truce: ‘I won’t try to suppress your ideas, if you don’t try to suppress mine.’  And the flag burning amendment risks shattering this truce.”

Third, this idea simply gives more and more support for the dangerous and foolhardy idea that society can ban expressions that it deems “offensive” or “hateful”  and still be free.  It cannot.  Speech and expression must be protected all the more so because they are offensive, and because they are hateful to some.  This is the only way that we can have an open exchange of ideas, and, if those ideas have merit, lead social change.  Those in power, regardless of who they are, will always have an interest in preventing  and suppressing speech that questions their ways, and giving them the opportunity to suggest or claim that the Constitution does not protect that speech is a great way to give them the power to do just that. 

Yes, the flag burning amendment seems to be just a small step in that direction, but it is nevertheless a much larger step than we should be willing to take.  Rep. Emerson stated, in her press release on this topic, that while the First Amendment protects free speech, it offers no protection for “hate speech.”   But, in reality, and misunderstood by many, First Amendment jurisprudence has made absolutely no distinction of that sort, the language of the Constitution gives no reason to believe that it should, and the Supreme Court has never given us reason to believe that it will.  Adding an amendment that builds in an exception to the First Amendment, based only on the offense that the expression brings to others, opens that door, and gives credence to those that, apparently like Rep. Emerson, believe that there are exceptions in the Constitution for actions that violate their feelings. 

If you don’t like flag burning, use your First Amendment rights to make a better case for why the person doing it is wrong.  Don’t use the inherent force of the government to stop ideas that you don’t like.