The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Justice Clarence Thomas

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This discussion with Professor Ralph Rossum of Claremont McKenna College explores the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Rossum posits that Justice Thomas practices an “original general meaning” approach that seeks concord among the three major strands of originalist theory. Justice Thomas incorporates both the framers’ original intent and that of the states’ constitutional ratifying conventions, as well as Justice Antonin Scalia’s public meaning methodology. Thus Justice Thomas, rather than standing underneath the stature of Justice Scalia, among others, may have a far richer constitutional hermeneutic than many of his originalist brethren. Rossum also discusses Justice Thomas’ appeals to the natural right teaching of the Declaration of Independence in certain decisions.

Ralph Rossum is the Salvatori Professor of Political Philosophy & American Constitutionalism at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of Understanding Clarence Thomas: The Jurisprudence of Constitutional Restoration (University Press of Kansas, 2014).

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  1. says

    Among my prized possessions is a letter from Justice Thomas written in response to a letter I wrote him regarding his auto-biography. I am not surprised that his work is beginning to be seen as deeply insightful.

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