What has got me all riled up today? Clarence Thomas, the worst Supreme Court Justice on the bench. Here's the problem, from the NY Times:
The subject is prison, specifically the meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Justice Clarence Thomas has a special insight and clairvoyant channel to our founding fathers intentions that more narrowly defines the broader meaning of the phrase.
In February 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in Hudson v. McMillian that a prisoner need not have suffered a “significant injury” in order to pursue a lawsuit against prison officials for the use of excessive force.Seems logical enough, but not to Thomas. In his dissent, check out Justice Thomas' "strict constructionist" interpretation of what the founding fathers must have meant.
In his dissenting opinion in the Hudson case, making the vote 7 to 2 — the new justice said that the Constitution’s framers “simply did not conceive of the Eighth Amendment as protecting inmates from harsh treatment.”For Thomas, a specific sentence would disregard additional punishments not spelled out in detail by the sentence, punishments created to perhaps avoid a constitutional conflict.
Wikipedia: The provision was largely inspired by the case in England of Titus Oates … was sentenced to imprisonment which included an annual ordeal of being taken out for two days pilory plus one day of whipping while tied to a moving cart. Members of Parliament then explained in August 1689 that “the Commons had a particular regard… to punishments like the one that had been inflicted by the King's Bench against Titus Oates. Parliament then enacted the English Bill of Rights into law in December 1689.
The Eighth Amendment dealt with only the actual sentence, he maintained, and not with conditions inside a prison or deprivations that were not a formal aspect of the sentence. He said the Supreme Court had taken a wrong turn in the 1970’s when it adopted a more expansive view, and he added, “The Eighth Amendment is not, and should not be turned into, a National Code of Prison Regulation.”But all laws are created by our government, and what happens after sentencing is under government purview or regulation, making it a constitutional Eighth Amendment matter.
Put another way to look at it, according to Law.umkc.ed:
In dissent, Justices Thomas and Scalia argued (controversially) that the Eighth Amendment was not intended to reach beatings by guards at all--rather only judicially-imposed sentences.Or this from the Northwestern University Law Review:
In recent years, both legal scholars and the American public have become aware that something is not quite right with the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. Legal commentators from across the spectrum have described the Court’s treatment of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause as “embarrassing,” “ineffectual and incoherent,” a “mess” and a “train wreck.” The feeling that modern Eighth Amendment jurisprudence has gone off the rails has arisen, at least in part, from the wildly inconsistent rulings that have emanated from the Supreme Court over the past few decades.
I have a question for Justice Thomas; What would the founding father think today?
Any question as to whether ideology has anything to do with supreme court decisions?