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the Body Politic
Vol. 01, No. 07 - July 1991, Page 28
Copyright © 1991, 1998 by the Body Politic Inc.
Editor's Desk

Clarence Thomas -- threat to privacy?

By Anne Bower

On June 27th, the pro-choice community was saddened by the announcement that Justice Thurgood Marshall had offered his resignation from the Supreme Court. For decades, Justice Marshall has been a champion of rights for all Americans and his loss is incalculable -- especially in light of who President Bush has nominated to succeed him.

Clarence Thomas, at 43, is another young judge with little experience asked to interpret the laws of America for the next 40 years. In the year 2030, a time many of us now living will never see, this man could still be deciding what is just and legal.

We know that no one proposed by President Bush will support reproductive rights, but in Clarence Thomas there may loom an even more pernicious threat to privacy of the individual. According to an article in the New York Times on 7/15/91, Lawrence Tribe, from Harvard Law School says,

"Clarence Thomas, judging from his speeches and scholarly writings, seems instead to believe judges should enforce the Founders' natural law philosophy -- the inalienable rights 'given man by his Creator' -- which he maintains is revealed most completely in the Declaration of Independence. He is the first Supreme Court nominee in 50 years to maintain that natural law should be readily consulted in constitutional interpretation."

Mr. Tribe goes on to suggest that not only would Judge Thomas vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but he could find reason to outlaw the legality of the use of birth control which he has referred to as a "court invention."

National NARAL has already taken a clear stand against this newest nominee and other reproductive rights advocate groups and civil liberties organizations are coming out against him. The September issue of the Body Politic will reprint excerpts from his writings and keep you informed on the Senate hearings, about which Mr. Tribe says,

"Before the Senate decries whether to confirm Judge Thomas, they should explore the implications of his views about natural law as the lodestar of constitutional interpretation. With the power of Congress and of every state and local legislature hanging in the balance, the Senate cannot avoid sharing the responsibility for the fate of self-government in the U.S.

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