Justice Clarence Thomas and John Yoo: Joined at the Whipping Post

The LA Times has an article on Justice Clarence's rejection of prisoner brutality claims under the theory the inmates hadn't show substantial physical damage.

According to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form -- but suffered neither serious nor permanent harm -- has no claim that his constitutional rights were violated.

The Times notes that at one time, John Yoo was Justice Thomas' law clerk.

Thomas' consistent record of dismissing claims of prison brutality, most of them joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, shows that Yoo's view of torture was not that of a rogue lawyer. Instead, it represents a strain of conservative thinking that looks back in history to define cruelty and torture, rather than toward what the court has called the "evolving standards of decency."


Remember the Alabama inmate tied to the hitching post? The case was Hope v. Pelzer. Thomas dissented from a 6-3 decision to ban the practice in Alabama of chaining prisoners to outdoor ''hitching posts'' and abandoning them for hours without food, water, or a chance to use the bathroom. The majority rightly concluded the practice was cruel and unusual punishment. Thomas, however, said the hitching post served "a legitimate penological purpose," encouraging a prisoner's "compliance with prison rules while out on work duty."

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    Heh, where's a group of (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 10:40:25 AM EST
    Catholic Archbishops when you need em'

    Surely Jesus wouldn't approve of such behavior. I want an exemption so that my tax dollars don't go to supporting people who kick, punch and slam people to the floor, particularly when they offer up no threat.

    I wonder if I can get Stupak to craft an amendment since he wields such clout and all and is the moral authority on Godly behavior.

    True, but the Christian conservatives (none / 0) (#6)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:40:05 AM EST
    would think it just fine....

    These people make "Christian" a dirty word....How they pervert the teachings.......


    to many rational people, there's (none / 0) (#7)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:48:22 AM EST
    nothing wrong with a little stigma being attached to membership in cults.

    I'm not sure if you are trying to (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:57:04 AM EST
    pick a fight here, but my point was that the Christian conservatives have perverted their own doctrine....

    One can toss-off all religion as inherently irrational, but there is also the point that these people are hypocrits in not following their own teachings....

    Not interested in a discussion of the all-religion-is-bunk platform.


    That's a fair position; mine is that (none / 0) (#11)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:12:12 PM EST
    since there is no central authority for dogma, any interpretation goes. If Christians in this country say Jesus supports torture, who am I to disagree? Jesus isn't here to speak for himself.
    Of course I prefer some brands of religion to others. I just think trying to say one flavor is more authentic than another is a useless route.

    For the Evangelical Christians (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:21:09 PM EST
    the Bible is all. So, you turn to the four canonical Gospels for the words of Jesus.  There is nothing there that supports torture...and indeed much that would oppose it.....not an earth shattering conclusion.

    For Catholics, the Bible is important but to be supplemented by Church teaching....Here, fortunately, on this issue at least, the Catholic Church is clear.....

    There is no religious justification for torture....You have to run contrary to Protestants' and Catholics' own teachings and invent a new theology.....Sure, one can create a new theologoy to justify torture but it would not be based on standard, conservative if you will, Christian thought.   These people are religious hypocrits...    


    I personally like to profess (none / 0) (#8)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:52:51 AM EST
    my faith by my actions not by proselytizing and declaring anyone who disagrees with my belief system is "going straight to he!! or "responsible for all the hardships heaped upon America."

    I figure if God gave people free will who the heck am I to try to take it away from anyone.

    Go figure.


    Religious conservatives (none / 0) (#10)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:05:43 PM EST
    are not really about religion....They are about reassuring themselves of their cultural hegemony....and about demonizing the "other" because that orders their world and reassures them that "evil" exists out there and not in themselves....

    The Republicans would be out of power completely but for the religious conservatives.....Until 1980, the Republicans had no power of consequence.....They did elect Ike and Nixon President but they (policy-wise) were very moderate on many issues.

    Reagan harnessed the reactionary elements among the religious....Without them, the free market, low taxes conservatives would consistently lose elections--even today.

    Defeatig the religious wacko conservatives is the way to defeat the modern Republican Party.  Witness what is happening in Virginia with the new Republican Governor--the anti-gay agenda is out of the closet.


    It wasn't much better under Kaine (none / 0) (#13)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:25:46 PM EST
    The problem as I see it is I'm faced with deciding between vanilla and french vanilla.

    The left is too worried that offering up someone who would actually fight for what used to be Democratic principles and fairness might be construed as a communist.

    Therefore my choices are vanilla and French vanilla.


    Just once I'd like someone from the Democratic side of the aisle to actually fight for their belief system rather than compromise it all away.

    Stupak should have been told to bugger off. No other special interest group gets to decide what line items they agree with in the government budget so why should he and the Catholic bishops be exempt for paying for something they don't agree with.

    The window should have been forced left. Instead we have people on our side of the aisle who profess they are pro choice defending Hyde, which is decidedly not a pro choice amendment.


    I generally think (none / 0) (#14)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:31:56 PM EST
    that (aside from choice issues) that the current health care bill has merit--more people covered and more regulation of the insurance carriers.

    But, Stupak is a bridge too far.  If the route to passage involves hurting choice, then let the bill fail.


    For the record (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:40:12 AM EST
    Thomas is a Catholic - not an evangelical Christian.

    What sick, authoritarian sadists (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by MKS on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:37:45 AM EST
    these people are.

    Time to reevaluate? (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:39:59 PM EST
    I am so disgusted with the whole "tough on crime" mentality that seems to flourish in this country. Considering that we lead the free world in prisoners maybe it isn't working as well as we think?

    35 years for four oz of pot (none / 0) (#17)
    by Rojas on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 01:19:38 PM EST
    is cruel and unusual punishment. But we'll keep sending the likes of Biden, Boxer, Feinstein, Schumer and all the other zero tolerance reactionaries into the halls of power with the smug confidence that the "Right" is nuttier if only by a smidgen.

    "Tough on Crime" (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:41:56 AM EST
    Doesn't have to mean abusive.  It originally started out (and to people like me) as "holding people accountable for their actions" instead of patting them on the head and wagging a finger at them with a "don't do it again, naughty boy/girl."

    We also lead the free world in legal/illegal gun ownership if that means anything.


    Thomas is a strange fruit. (none / 0) (#1)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 10:37:21 AM EST

    Just FYI (none / 0) (#21)
    by Emma on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 02:48:37 PM EST
    Just to give you information that you might want to take into account:

    "Strange Fruit" is a pretty famous song sung by Billie Holiday about the lynching of Black men in the South.


    "Poppy" picked the most qualified person (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:06:50 AM EST

    in the country to be a Supreme Court Justice.  At least that's what he said on the teevee.  

    The rich and powerful have always had a little thing about S&M.  

    Rings true (none / 0) (#5)
    by Lora on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:38:07 AM EST
    The rich and powerful have always had a little thing about S&M.  

    Good point about Yoo (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 01:04:19 PM EST
    not being a rogue lawyer, at least in conservative circles. Does not make him any less culpable in my view, but if it hadn't been him writing the memos, it would have been somebody else. He was just a clerk in that sense.

    And I wish I could sit here today and say definitively that I'm sure things have changed, but I will never trust my government again on this issue.

    Sadly (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 06:29:26 PM EST
    These guys are more reflective of the mainstream than not, imo.  

    We are not prison nation, and cruel and unusual prison nation, for nothing..