Saturday, July 3, 2010

The American Conservatism of Thurgood Marshall

The Wall Street Journal
The Elena Kagan hearings have wrongly portrayed him as an extremist.
Juan Williams, July 3, 2010

Was Thurgood Marshall a conservative? J. Edgar Hoover, an indisputably right-wing voice, certainly thought so: The FBI chief sent Marshall a note congratulating him on his nomination to the high court. So did Malcolm X, who branded the first black Supreme Court justice a "fool" because he didn't embrace mass protest or excuse riots.
But at last week's confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan, the reality of Marshall's record was eclipsed by the myth of the late justice as a wild-eyed, left-wing activist. Several Republican senators expressed concern that Ms. Kagan, a former Marshall clerk, might replicate his approach to applying the law.
"Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy . . . is not what I would consider mainstream," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz). The senator depicted Marshall, who sat on the court from 1967 to 1991, as a "results oriented" justice who interpreted the law to fit his political aims and had no regard for a strict reading of the Constitution.

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