Justice Thomas Challenges Conventions of Legal History

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In his latest challenge to conventional wisdom, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas this week opined in a Pledge of Allegiance case that the Constitution protected a state’s right to recognize an official church. Almost everyone has assumed that the opposite is true. It is not the first time Thomas has tried to turn the standard thinking on its head when it comes to the Constitution. He has done so by focusing on the document as it was written in 1787, says the Los Angeles Times.

“He likes to say we should look at this afresh. Our law is muddled, and we should rethink it,” Yale Law School professor Akhil Amar said admiringly of Thomas. But the consequences of his “rethinking” could be far-reaching. For example, Thomas has argued that the word “commerce” in the Constitution should be understood as it was in the 18th century: the movement of goods across state lines. Under this view, the states could not erect tariffs or other barriers to the free flow of goods. If his colleagues ever agree, many of today’s workplace laws would be struck down.

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-thomas17jun17,1,3769212.story?coll=la-home-nation

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