[H]e received a note from a friend who wrote, “I think it is a very worthwhile venture, but one fraught with potential problems.”By the way, I can't find Gerber's book on Amazon or in the iTunes bookstore. My Amazon search for the title turned up a bunch of mismatches, led by "Original Sin: Clarence Thomas and the Failure of the Constitutional Conservatives." Hmmm. [ADDED: The article at the link got the title of the book wrong, and Amazon's search tool isn't good at guessing its way around problems like that. Here's the book, which is called "First Principles," not "Founding Principles." Unfortunately, you can't get it in ebook form.]
"'What potential problems could there be?’ I asked myself upon reading this," Gerber said. "Has academia come to this? Have academics really become so political that we are now required to write partisan pamphlets rather than scholarly treatises? Note that this does not mean I am supporting Clarence Thomas; it does mean, however, that I am not against him."
Anyway, as the first link above shows, Clarence Thomas marks his 20th year on the Supreme Court this year. Oh, to have been blogging then!
Thomas’ critics strove to mischaracterize his views about the Declaration of Independence during his nomination process in 1991, according to Gerber.Here's that Tribe op-ed in its natural habitat. If only blogging had been around back then, what would we lawprof bloggers have said? It's nice to have Gerber's book — except that it's impossible to get (in the sense that I can't download it into my computer right now. I do have a library!). But the ability to blog these things in real time is something that we now see as an essential check on liberal media. It's frightening in retrospect to think of the one-sided manipulations we simply endured back then.
“For example, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe wrote in a scathing “New York Times” op-ed that Thomas would use the Declaration to turn back the clock to the darkest days of the nation’s history. Quoting Tribe: ‘Most conservatives criticize the judiciary for expanding its powers, creating rights rather than interpreting the constitution. Thomas, judging from his speeches and scholarly writings, seems instead to believe judges should enforce the founders’ natural law philosophy… 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.’
“What critics such as Tribe fail to appreciate was that Thomas was articulating the standard individual rights interpretation of the Declaration, an interpretation shared by Jefferson, Lincoln and Rev. [Martin Luther] King Jr.,” Gerber said. “To secure these rights, the Declaration proclaims, governments are instituted among men.”
I'll write a law review article — perhaps one thought — and it might come out in less than a year, if I'm lucky. Oh, but what if the law reviews are looking for "partisan pamphlets"?
Conservatives were boxed in, and blogging opened the box.