Is Clarence Thomas all wet?

Special interest groups ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights hope to leave President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court high and dry, and off the high court, be denouncing him as outside the "judicial mainstream."

But one supported of Judge Thomas, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, says the conservative jurist "stands not only in the political and moral mainstream of our polity, but also in the mainstream of our judicial history."

That is the assessment of Russel Hittinger, an associate professor of philosophy at Catholic University of America, who last week released an analysis of Judge Thomas' views on "natural law" at a press conference called by the Citizens Committee to Confirm Clarence Thomas.

Natural law is a view that springs from a belief in human equality as a higher, universal law against which the legality of actions should be judged. Detractors believe a natural law approach could lead Judge Thomas, if confirmed to the high court, to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court's 1973 ruling protecting a woman's right to choose abortion.

Judge Thomas's confirmation hearings, slated to begin Sept. 10, may prove of interest to municipal finance officals because of the judge's experience as one of Missouri's assistant attorneys general from 1974 to 1977. There, Judge Thomas handled cases for the state revenue department and tax commission.

In response to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Thomas listed four tax cases among the 10 most important he had litigated. He cited the cases because "there was a very significant loss of revenue to the state of Missouri." The response was released by the committee last week and closely tracked information he provided the panel when he was being considered for the spot on the appeals court.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.