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11/16/2019

Scott Gerber on Corey Robin on Justice Thomas
Michael Ramsey

At Law & Liberty, Scott Gerber:  A Marxist Takes a Swing and a Miss at Justice Thomas’s Jurisprudence (reviewing [harshly] Corey Robin,  The Enigma of Clarence Thomas (Metroploitan Books 2019)).  From the introduction:

Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas has certainly attracted a lot of attention. To mention a few of the highlights: the New Yorker excerpted it; the New York Times reviewed it twice and also published an op-ed by Robin about it; the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic reviewed it too; Vanity Fair interviewed Robin about it; C-SPAN broadcast the New York Public Library’s book launch for it; and Annette Gordon-Reed, Patricia J. Williams, Dahlia Lithwick, and Jack M. Balkin provided dust-jacket “blurbs” for it.

Unfortunately, Robin’s book is both agenda-driven and wrong. With respect to the former, any book about a public official that the author labels an “enemy” and a “liar” must be read with a skeptical eye, especially when the secondary sources the author tends to cite are either written by other authors who view Justice Thomas as an “enemy” and a “liar” (e.g., Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, the co-authors of the anti-Thomas screed Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas) or mis-characterized (e.g., despite Robin’s assertion that I am a “conservative admirer” of Justice Thomas because of my book First Principles: The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas (1999), I am a libertarian scholar who frequently disagrees with him but who tries to treat him fairly… as Justice Thomas himself has publicly acknowledged).

The principal reason why Robin’s book is wrong is because Robin is a Marxist ideologue who has constructed categories of interpretation that no one utilizes, and this leads him to make a mess of Justice Thomas’s constitutional philosophy.