Thomas is so cut off on the Court, even from his fellow-conservatives. He doesn’t respect the Court’s precedents. He is so convinced of the wisdom of his approach to the law that he rejects practically the whole canon of constitutional law. It’s an act of startling self-confidence, but a deeply isolating one as well. Even his ideological allies, who mostly come out the same way on cases, recognize that they must dwell within the world that their colleagues and predecessors created. Thomas, in contrast, has his own constitutional law, which he alone honors and applies.
Thomas just turned sixty-eight years old, and reports of his impending retirement briefly surfaced before his wife shot them down as “bogus.” Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that Thomas would allow any Democrat to choose his successor. Shortly after Scalia died, Thomas asked his first question in oral argument in more than a decade, but it’s highly unlikely that he will take on Scalia’s role as the pugnacious conservative in the Court’s public sessions. Rather, Thomas will continue his own way, increasingly alone, as the Court, for the first time in two generations, moves to the left. As for Thomas’s place on the Court, it’s difficult to improve on Scalia’s analysis, which I heard him give at a synagogue a decade ago. Scalia was asked about how his judicial philosophy differed from Thomas’s. “I’m an originalist,” Scalia said, “but I’m not a nut.”
Read the full op-ed here: Clarence Thomas Has His Own Constitution – The New Yorker