Click here to go to the Home Page From Thurgood to No-Good - Point Blank By Chris Stevenson, Columnist

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Every now and then HBO tosses us a non-stereotypical black show (which only gives them away when they air "The Wire" or "The Corner," and claim they don't know any better). Consider "Thurgood" a home run. This is a one-man re-enactment of the life of the first black US Supreme Court Justice. As much as Thurgood Marshall was well-known among old-school blacks and whites as a juror on the highest court in the land (not to mention his previous stint as a Judge on the 2nd highest court in the land; the US Court of Appeals), it is his grossly-little-known work as a fearless, phenomenal Civil Rights Attorney that is my favorite Marshall period. Award-winning actor Laurence Fishburn delivers a brilliant yet unsurprising performance as the animated proud Marshall reviewing key moments, cases, court battles and relationships throughout his storied career. In the back of my mind that Sunday while watching it on the evening of the 2nd last day of Black History Month, was the depressing news of the previous week regarding Justice Marshall's successor.

Understand "Thurgood" was mostly based on a biography written by the late syndicated columnist/author Carl Rowan; "Dream Maker, Dream Breaker." What we are now witness to in place of Marshall is a broken Negro who evidently spends most of his time on the bench daydreaming; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It's been known for several years now that he has been going to work without uttering a single word regarding any case that's on their docket, oddly enough other than myself and a handful of other blacks in black news media, not much has said about this silent-running. Is he on a gag-order? Did Scalia or someone tell him to zip-it and he thought they meant his mouth? Does he feel inadequate or unqualified and therefore has nothing to add to the discussion? Whatever the reason, as of 2/22/11 he just extended his no mas to five years.

What would Rowan say about Thomas were he still alive, perhaps the same as he did when Clarence the Larynx still had vocal cords: "Clarence Thomas is the best only at his ability to bootlick for Ronald Reagan and George Bush... they didn't pick him because he was black. They picked him because he's a black conservative. And the thing that bothers me about his appointment - if they had put David Duke on, I wouldn't scream as much because they would look at David Duke and reject him for what he is. If you gave Clarence Thomas a little flour on his face, you'd think you had David Duke talking." With all due respect to the great Rowan I have to disagree. Rowan is not here to write about Thomas self-imposed silence in the chamber, otherwise he's now seen how such a comparison to the well-known KKK leader David Duke is now an insult to Duke.

A couple years back when I naively entertained the thought that Clarence' speechlessness in the chamber was going to be short-lived (What black man do you know is capable of keeping his mouth shut 2-years-in-a-row in any setting?), he would brush off criticism of his silence. A closer look at Thomas's dealings reveals there seems to be a reason for at least some of the mum. AlterNet reported that Justice Thomas is under financial/ethical investigation by a watchdog group ironically called POE. Recently they filed a complaint against him because he wasn't truthful when completing financial-disclosure forms. Thomas is a member of the Missouri Bar, this complaint was filed with the MI Supreme Court and according to POE (Protect Our Elections) attorney Kevin Zeese, "Thomas committed multiple violations of the Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct. Zeese asks the office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel to take immediate action against Thomas, including disbarment." It's interesting Zeese would word it this way because even if successful this still wouldn't remove him from his seat on the high court, but it's enough to make Thomas not hesitate to open his mouth.

During a keynote address for conservative law students Thomas was quoted as lashing out at his critics who AlterNet says he feels is undermining the Supreme Court. What does he have to say about POE's charges that he "made rulings that his wife benefited from financially and professionally, and by extension, that benefited him." Zeese added in this bar complaint, "in short this unethical and criminal conduct violates the Rules of Professional Conduct, and undermine the rule of law respect for the law and confidence in the law." Silence isn't always golden, especially from one of the most powerful alleged-black men in the country.

It gets deeper for Long Dong Silver: "It appears that Justice Thomas had a reason for not disclosing that his wife was working for a conservative think tank and a conservative 501c(4) group; he did not want litigants who had cases pending before the Supreme Court to have information that could be used to disqualify him from hearing those cases, and he wanted his family to benefit financially from his decisions." According to the 2/12/11 New York Times: "In the past 40 years no other Justice has gone an entire term, much less five, without speaking at least once during arguments." Oral arguments are the high court's most public ceremony, not to be confused with arguments during hearings this is where you get a rough idea where individual Judges stand, how they interact and question different cases, lawyers and each others. Thomas has spoken on a few of the decisions he ruled on, just last June he awoke long enough to be the deciding vote that gave a black man; Otis McDonald (76) the right to buy a handgun in order to protect himself from black Chicago gang bangers, and even tossed in a pretty radical sounding (for Thomas anyway) speech to emphasize his position. One wonders what his ruling would have been were he in fear of a white mob like Long Island's John White. But why look a gift-horse in the mouth?

Conspicuous in "Thurgood" is Fishburn's character waxing about how many oral arguments he and other SC colleagues made. Whatever your reasoning it is hard to respect any sitting court judge who fails to issue any pro or con opinion on cases where people's, American citizen's, lives hang on the balance. This is the immediate point where I part company with Justice Thomas. It's bad enough many people-blacks especially-feel his appointment by then-President George H.W. Bush was nothing more than a contrived farce; a practical joke on the majority of black voters who weren't impressed with his Gulf War victory, and who definitely knew the truth about Iran/Contra and it's byproduct of the crack/cocaine influx targeted toward the black community, and even the multitudes who didn't vote for him in the election he won in '88. Maybe that's why Thomas no longer speaks, what more can be said? Columnist Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist, his articles also appear on his blog; the Buffalo Bullet. Follow him on Twitter(pointblank009) and Facebook (pointblank009 ) Click here to contact Mr. Stevenson.

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Mar 17, 2011 - Issue 418
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