Posted Oct 25, 2011 11:00 am CDT
Justice Clarence Thomas is the “intellectual godfather” of the tea party movement, according to one of his former law clerks, University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Yoo notes that Thomas has embraced originalism during his 20 years on the court and defended the Constitution “against elite efforts at social engineering.” The media has portrayed Thomas as a man stung by his contentious confirmation hearings who follows his conservative counterparts, Yoo says. In reality, the court has moved in Thomas’ direction, while his ideas favoring limited government and individual freedom have served as a beacon for a grassroots movement, Yoo writes.
No stranger to controversy, Yoo says Thomas has been “the left’s lightning rod.” The justice’s “purity of principle” means that he won’t be the court’s swing vote or a builder of coalitions. Thomas’ true audience, Yoo opines, is the American people rather than a few federal judges.
“Clarence Thomas set the table for the tea party by making originalism fashionable again,” Yoo writes. “Imagine what he will do in the next 20 years.”