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Understanding — and Appreciating — Clarence Thomas

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) Thirty years on, it’s time for all of us to set aside the old stereotypes, and — in understanding how Thomas seeks to decide cases — allow ourselves the pleasure of listening to his own words.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE S ocial media is, let’s face it, excitable. On June 28 it went wild at the report — to quote a typical headline, from NBC — that “Clarence Thomas says federal laws against marijuana may no longer be necessary.” OMG, the Twitterverse exclaimed. The most right-wing justice on a conservative Supreme Court, ready to throw pot law into the ashcan of history! What more proof could you need that the world has changed?

Except that if anything had changed, it wasn’t Thomas. A decade and a half earlier, in Gonzales v. Raich, he’d argued in dissent that the federal government lacks constitutional …

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