The highest court in America is the Supreme Court of the United States charged with the function of appellate jurisdiction over all other courts whether they are States or Federal. The court is made up of a chief justice and eight other associate justices who are confirmed by the senate after being nominated by the president. Members of Supreme Court have life tenure and can only be removed through impeachment or conviction otherwise during their “good behaviour” they serve as long as they so wish (United States Senate 442). Their decision on a case forwarded to them is final even though they are not bound to agree on the ruling all of them. Most of the time one or tow members have dissenting opinion which should be incorporated in the final ruling.
Appointment of Members
As any other political appointment, members of Supreme Court appointed are believed to share ideological views with the appointing authority, the president. But this does not affect the judicial application of the law. They are not bound to behave as sycophants to the president but are called to uphold the rule of the law. These appointees face stiff vetting by the public who might lobby the senators to reject any person on the basis of their track record. The appointed justice is “subjected to a vote in the senate house” and those who get a favourable majority vote are then cleared to serve in the position of a justice (Curt 207).
The current membership of the Supreme Court is composed of three female and six male justices with an average age of 66 years. These are John Roberts (chief Justice), Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
One of the members of Supreme Court whose contributions is of interest is Clarence Thomas. Clarence was born in Pin Point, Georgia on 23rd of June 1948 and appointed as a Supreme Court justice on October 23rd 1991 by the former president George W. Bush to replace justice Thurgood Marshall. Before his appointment he had served as circuit judge, chairman of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, legislative assistant, and as assistant attorney. His appointment was seen as more political than on merit based because he had “little credentials to qualify him for such a position” in the highest court of the land (United States Senate 445).
Justice Thomas Clarence remains an associate member of the court since his appointment and confirmation by the senate. He has come out as a fierce combatant with people who do not follow the law to the letter. Fighting against racism he chooses to employs his own style of doing things. Some of his critics see him as a “barking mad” while his supporters see his opinions as “clear and well-reasoned, honouring the constitutional traditions” (New York Times, 4 ). Thomas is one of the most controversial justices of the modern America and in the history of Supreme Court. Scott Gerber who supports Thomas believes that he is a “liberal originalist” when dealing with civil rights but a “conservative originalist” on matters of civil liberties and federalism. He sees him as a more consistent thinker compared to his peer (New York Times, 4).
Thomas Clarence has both positive and negative impact on political, economic, legal systems of United States. His influence as an advocate, a judge and a justice is recorded in the books of history and talked about in the society.
Political Contribution of Thomas Clarence
Thomas is seen to have joined Chief Justice William Rehnquist in advocating for the doctrine of federalism where power is decentralized and distributed to the states. He believes that when more powers are given to the states, then people would enjoy the rule of law which is free and fair. Dissenting opinion of Clarence on the First Amendment is believed to form the platform of the future appointments and political landscape. He insisted that inclusion of a clause in the First Amendment was purely to deny the position of religion in the public life. In the case of Good News Bible Club versus Milford he concludes that any “Christian youth group has a right of meeting after school hours in public-school facilities” (New York Times 449). The ruling generated a heated debate especially in the political circles but seen as a precedence of good things to come in politics.
The decision by the Supreme Court in a case of Citizens’ United versus Federal Election Commission for the right of corporation to donate unrestricted amounts of money to politicians left an outcry in the political and public arena. This decision has a far reaching economic implication both to political systems and the country at large.
It is believed that corporate leaders met and strategized to eliminate ninety percent of the regulations to ensure the survival of corporate world. In this case the man at the center was Thomas Clarence who is believed to have attended the meetings with a group which was an interested party in the case. He gave the personhood to corporations as state that is seen as encouraging corruption in the American politics. This ensured that corporate interests are taken care of more importantly than those of individuals. According to Curt, Thomas’ ruling is seen to have opened a way for vices like vote buying by corporations in legislative houses, unfair spending and outside influences (205).
Legal Contribution of Thomas Clarence
Thomas has been said to be more than ready to overrule constitutional cases which he did not in principal agree with. When faced with a case in which the constitutional line of argument perceived to be wrong, he would not “hesitate to overturn such a ruling” no matter how old the ruling is (Shuler 1). He is known to hold dissent opinion whenever he believed the constitution was not applied correctly. Thomas is credited for voting at all times when called to do so for outcomes that promoted state-government authority even though the court has not yet embraced the philosophy of “broader and principled federalism” (Curt 208 ). He was more ready to vote so as to review federal laws. He is on record to have voted in 34 cases to overturn the federal rules between 1994 and 2005.
The Fourth Amendment related cases which advocate for abolishment of unreasonable searches and seizures, Thomas is seen to have a soft spot for the police force against the defendants. He believed that some force was necessary if the law is being upheld by applying such force. In Holzer’s view, police personnel who have been accused of carrying out unreasonable searches and seizures would be lightly treated when they appear before Thomas Clarence (27).
Economic Contribution of Thomas Clarence
Abundance of resources is not the only factor that stimulates the economic growth of a given country. A country like Japan is not well endowed with resources, yet it is one of the most stable and strongest economies in the world. This can also be said about the United States. The rule of law is seen as the solid foundation on which economies of developed countries thrive.
Legal systems that provide reliable legal protection for investors both local and foreign encourages the development of advanced financial markets which in turn strengthens the economics systems in that country. Strong legal systems are easily seen through the “jurisdictions of judges over cases” brought before them (Holzer 25). If the judiciary is seen to be corrupt then it easily renders the rule of law impractical. It weakens property rights deprive investors of returns on their investments hence decreasing incentive to invest. When this happens then the economy experiences stunted economic growth.
Thomas Clarence, apart from frequently holding dissenting opinions has also been mentioned to have failed to meet his economic obligation by not completing financial-disclosure forms truthfully for twenty years. A case against him is filled with the Missouri Supreme Court with allegations of having committed “multiple violations to Missouri rules of Professional Conduct” (Holzer 27). He is also believed to have failed to disclose “his wife’s non-investment income” (Holzer 27).
It is believed that Thomas breached his legal duty and violated code of conduct he was party knowingly. This is seen as a taint to the judiciary on which the economic growth of America is hinged on. Thomas was an interested party in the case of Citizens United Foundation sat in a case that and made a ruling in which favoured Citizens United Foundation. From his ruling his wife is believed to have benefited financially and professionally.
In summary such behavior of an associate justice of the Supreme Court is unethical and criminal given that it undermines the rule of law, the foundation on which American economy thrives. Thomas Clarence is seen to introduce alien concept of corruption in the American judiciary system that will shape the future of this country if allowed to its maturity.
Societal Involvement in Thomas Clarence
In education sector he has been known to be an advocate for the doctrine of “parents delegating disciplinary authority to teachers” (Curt 208). For example in the case of Safford Unified School versus Redding, the school administration suspected that Savana Redding thirteen year old was illegally distributing drugs. Even though the court found the action of searching the Redding by the school administration in order, all the justices expect Thomas concluded that extend of the search violated the fourth Amendments. In his opinion Thomas stated that is was wrong for the courts to decide which school rules should be applied when and where. He further stated that the knowledge that Reddings was in possession of drugs was a violation of school rules hence giving the “school administration a right to do a thorough search” to extend that did not leave any doubt (Holzer 26). Thomas believed that if Redding was suspected by the parents then they would have done a thorough search including where small pills could be concealed.
He supports the participation of religious groups in public life. Thomas notes that Establishment Clause “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is interpreted as a “provision for federal government establishment”, but not for individuals and therefore blanket application of this law is immoral (Holzer 26).
Thomas states that Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth Amendments forbids racial discrimination or preferential treatment. He argues to support this clause in cases of admission to institutions of high learning. For example in the case of Gratz and Bollinger he states that “the use of racial discrimination in higher education admissions is prohibited” (Holzer 26). People are different and will never be equal expect under the law. The law should be applied without favour and correctly.
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