Letters to the Editor

The Connecticut Law Tribune

Thomas is Wallflower, Not a Liberal Punch Toy

To The Editor:

In her tribute to Clarence Thomas, (Waiting For The Real Clarence Thomas, Jan. 27, 2003) Santa Mendoza is disingenuous when she quotes David Brock's "The Real Anita Hill." Mr. Brock has since disavowed this work as a hatchet job, full of unsupported innuendo and outright lies. In "Blinded by the Right," Brock states that "[p]erhaps the errors of 'The Real Anita Hill' could be attributed to journalistic carelessness, ideological bias, and my misdirected quest for acceptance from a political movement."

Subsequent to "The Real Anita Hill," Brock reviewed "Strange Justice," which supported Anita Hill and reported that Thomas was a habitual renter of hard-core pornography. In his review, Brock wrote that there was no evidence that Clarence Thomas had rented pornographic videos. In "Blinded by the Right," however, Brock admits that "[w]hen I wrote those words, I knew they were false . . . In the review of 'Strange Justice,' however, to protect myself and my tribe from the truth and consequences of our own hypocrisy, smears, falsehoods, and cover-ups, I consciously and actively chose an unethical path. I continued to malign Anita Hill and her liberal supporters as liars." Like the pre-confessional Brock, Ms. Mendoza ignores facts which support Anita Hill and implicitly maligns her allegations, referring to them as "eleventh hour" and "never corroborated by any second person."

Ms. Mendoza attempts to justify Justice Thomas's lack of participation at oral argument and infrequent opinions, resulting in a minuscule contribution to constitutional law. Ironically, Ms. Mendoza's explanation is much more condemnatory than the views of Justice Thomas' severest critics. Ms. Mendoza claims that a result of Justice Thomas' confirmation hearing is that he "also has been effectively silenced in his judicial role, becoming a person of mystery." This is a bizarre notion. A judge may be unwilling to give public speeches, but full participation in oral argument and writing opinions is exactly what the job is. If Ms. Mendoza is correct-and I doubt that she is-then Justice Thomas would be much less than a full Supreme Court justice. Most observers of the Supreme Court would offer a different view of Justice Thomas's silence: he usually agrees with Justice Scalia, who is a prolific writer. Justice Thomas votes, joins in Scalia's opinions and rarely adds anything additional. While this may be subject to criticism, it is far less of a problem than the notion that Justice Thomas has been "silenced," which makes it seem that he is afraid to write. While Ms. Mendoza works hard at defending Justice Thomas, in the end she gives unwitting fodder to his harshest critics.

Robert Solomon
Yale Law School

Mendoza Responds:

None of the facts I mentioned are refuted anywhere in Mr. Solomon's letter. My column was about Thomas's pre-confirmation hearing activities in the Reagan administration. I don't think whether or not Thomas rented videos is relevant or necessarily corroborative of Anita Hill's allegations. (Furthermore, the ALA and ACLU have led us to believe that snooping around one's video rentals and book borrowing is an invasion of intellectual privacy and heinous in general. Why is it OK to do it to Clarence?)

And I don't think any reasonable person would refute what affect the trauma of Thomas' confirmation hearings had on him or would have on anybody.

Thibault Botched The Facts

To The Editor:

This letter is in response to Andy Thibault's "Cool Justice" commentary in the January 27, 2003, Connecticut Law Tribune.

Mr. Thibault claims that "courts say [menorahs] are secular symbols." I don't know what courts he is referring to, but the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly stated [in 1989's County of Allegheny v. ACLU, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter]that the menorah is a religious symbol, as is a creche, but a Christmas tree is not.

Litchfield Ponds is a residential condominium located in a residential zone. As with many other residential common interest communities, the bylaws and regulations expressly prohibit any and all activities of a commercial or similar nature inconsistent with the residential character of the condominium. The regulations prohibit the display of all commercial or religious symbols, defined in a manner which is consistent with the Supreme Court's holding. Not surprisingly, the bylaws and regulations also proscribe the color and style of buildings, porches and decks, and prohibit clothes lines and the keeping of animals or livestock (other than a maximum of two dogs or cats per unit). In other words, as Mr. Thibault is no doubt aware, a condominium is governed by bylaws and restrictions necessary to ensure harmonious living. The result, of course, is a degree of uniformity in appearance and conduct which Mr. Thibault finds amusing, but which a vast majority of the residents support. We hold monthly meetings open to all residents, publish a newsletter, and encourage participation in running the association. As president, I have one vote, just like everyone else.

Finally, Mr. Thibault's comment that Litchfield is "hospitable to anti-Semitism" is offensive and totally baseless. Other than the alleged vandalism of the menorah on the Town Green that he mentions, can Mr. Thibault cite any other evidence that Litchfield is anti-Semitic? Does vandalism of any church in Litchfield mean that the Town is anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, or anti-Christian in general?

Mr. Thibault is certainly entitled to express his opinions, but he owes his readers an accurate statement of the law, and the residents of the Town of Litchfield deserve better than to be labeled anti-Semitic.

Robert L. Fisher Jr.
Litchfield