That’s a theme in a very worthwhile article about Thomas written by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker:
These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication….
The implications of Thomas’s leadership for the Court, and for the country, are profound. Thomas is probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties. More than virtually any of his colleagues, he has a fully wrought judicial philosophy that, if realized, would transform much of American government and society. Thomas’s views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement, which his wife has helped lead almost since its inception. The Tea Party is a diffuse operation, and it can be difficult to pin down its stand on any given issue. Still, the Tea Party is unusual among American political movements in its commitment to a specific view of the Constitution—one that accords, with great precision, with Thomas’s own approach. For decades, various branches of the conservative movement have called for a reduction in the size of the federal government, but for the Tea Party, and for Thomas, small government is a constitutional command.
Walter Russell Mead (h/t Aggie95) follows up on Toobin’s theme, New Blue Nightmare: Clarence Thomas and the Amendment of Doom:
If Toobin’s revionist take is correct, (and I defer to his knowledge of the direction of modern constitutional thought) it means that liberal America has spent a generation mocking a Black man as an ignorant fool, even as constitutional scholars stand in growing amazement at the intellectual audacity, philosophical coherence and historical reflection embedded in his judicial work.
Thomas always has stood as a mortal threat to liberal dogma enforcers not because of the content of his character, but because of the color of his skin. It is not surprising that he has been subjected to a level of attack not seen on a Supreme Court Justice in a generation.
Think Progress frequently devotes prime space on its Justice page to attacking Thomas:
Thomas just keeps on keeping on, staying true to his intellectual foundations and refusing to be bullied.
And after almost two decades on the Supreme Court, he is on the verge of victory, for himself and for us.