New Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court" and should not be considered for chief justice, when asked about Thomas replacing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Speculation of Rehnquist’s retirement was sparked after the Justice announced earlier this year his battles with thyroid cancer.
“I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don’t think that he’s done a good job as a Supreme Court justice," said Reid.
Reid was less critical of Thomas’ fellow conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, CNN reported. Yet, on nearly 60 dissentions recorded by Justice Thomas since his taking oath in 1991, Scalia joined in on at least 24 of the cases.
“I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy,” Reid said of Scalia. “And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reasons for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute.”
Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, (D-IL), will be at the center of the fight on judges as the next Democratic leader behind Reid. Durbin, told St. Louis Today that he wouldn’t give Justice Scalia a pass based on his brilliance.
Reid also warned Republicans against efforts to override the Democrats’ right to filibuster against judicial appointments, the Washington Post said.
For the past four years, Democrats have used the filibuster, to block some of the president’s extreme judicial nominees; recently republicans have been about voting to bar the use of the filibuster in judicial nominations.
“During the past four years … we have approved 207 federal judges and turned down 10,” he said. The president, he said, "should be happy with what he’s gotten.”
JusticeThomas himself narrowly escaped the democratic filibuster, as his nomination to the Supreme Court was hotly contested after Anita Hill made a claim that Thomas had sexually harassed her while he worked at the Department of Education and later at the EEOC. At the Senate confirmation hearing in 1991, HON. Clarence Thomas, of Georgia testified rather boldly saying of Hill’s allegations.
“This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, as far as I am concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity-blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that, unless you kow-tow to an old order this is what will happen to you, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.”
Perhaps the recent events will inspire such language again.