Clarence in Wonderland

September 13, 1991

The Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings have truly taken on an Alice-in-Wonderland character.

When he is asked his personal position on the right to abortion, Thomas says with a perfectly straight face that this is irrelevant since it would not influence how he might vote on upholding or overturning the 1973 case of Roe vs. Wade, which granted to women a fundamental right to terminate early-stage pregnancies.

That is palpable nonsense. If Thomas personally believes that abortion is the taking of a human life, how can he possibly claim that this position is irrelevant to how he might rule? If he truly believes that abortion is murder -- and numerous on-the-record statements indicate that he does indeed believe that -- then his personal opinion would become the very basis of how he would rule on the issue. If he would not hold that murder is illegal, then the man does not deserve to sit on the Supreme Court.

As for his view of the legal correctness of Roe vs. Wade, Thomas says it would compromise his judicial "impartiality" to discuss those views. This, too, is palpable nonsense. It simply defies belief that Thomas, as an intelligent man whose profession is the law, has not formed an opinion as to the correctness of the most controversial Supreme Court decision of our time. Of course he has an opinion. It is just that only Judge Thomas (and very likely the president who nominated him) knows what that opinion is. Few of us would vote for a president, a senator, a governor without knowing that candidate's position on the right to abortion. Yet Thomas, the one person in the nation who stands to affirm or deny the right to abortion, wants to go onto the Supreme Court without revealing the secret position he holds. How can it possibly affect his "impartiality" to disclose a position we know that he holds?

Whether one opposes abortion under any circumstances or favors the right of choice under all circumstances, we are entitled to know Thomas' position before he goes onto the court, not after. To argue otherwise is simply -- there is no other word -- crazy.

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