Monday, April 13, 2009

Perhaps a slight detour

For those of you who don't know, I'm a Supreme Court buff. So, I was reading Adam Liptak's (the New York Times's Supreme Court reporter) column about a recent appearance by Justice Thomas when I noticed that some of Thomas's comments matched almost exactly with our class discussion. So, in lieu of posting on Dagger for Tuesday's class, I thought I'd take a slight detour to Thomas and see if perhaps we can draw some interesting connections between Dagger, Glendon, and Thomas either here on the blog or in class tomorrow.

The gist of the article (available at is as follows: Thomas spoke to a group of essay contest winners during a dinner sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute. Liptak quotes him as saying the following:

The evening was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”

“I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”

He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.”

Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.

So, it seems that Thomas would agree with Glendon. To both Thomas and Glendon, we are experiencing a proliferation of rights at the expense of civic duty or responsibility. My questions are these: does Thomas add anything to this conversation? Are the facts that he is speaking as a Supreme Court Justice or the fact that he is speaking to an audience of high school students significant? If so, how?

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