In Praise of Clarence Thomas

July 31st, 2023 3:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- Leonard Leo, the founder of the Federalist Society and various other conservative groups, sits on a bundle of money. Moreover, he is giving a lot of it away. He is not giving it to any left-wing cause or even to the Girl Scouts of America. He is giving it to right-wing causes.

About this The Washington Post is apparently furious. Last week, The Post prattled on for a full page starting with page one and continuing on for an entire page -- page four -- within the newspaper. George Soros devotes such energy to left-wing causes. Dozens of similarly left-wing groups do, too. But only left-wing newspapers expend such energy on left-wing causes and do not admit to having any bias whatsoever. The right-wing Wall Street Journal does not do this for any right-wing cause that I know of, but The Post does it for the left, and other papers on the left do it, too. They never tell their readers what they are up to. A right-wing paper usually does. It is characteristic of American media politics.

Leo is obviously supporting people who favor Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ positions on the court. Thomas is one of the truly great figures to grace the court in our history. Now, I read the entire Washington Post piece, and I could find nothing illegal, wrong-headed, or even in bad taste with what the Post had found Leo and his colleagues guilty of. Leo and his colleagues are conservative, and The Post is left-wing. Lighten up, fellas. There is nothing wrong with that. It is the way politics are supposed to work in a democracy.

Leo gives money to his friends. They break no laws by spending money. There is nothing devious about what they do with the money. Still, The Post is shocked. A gentleman from Texas by the name of Harlan Crow, a billionaire no less, is mentioned in The Post for being particularly generous to Thomas. He apparently paid to bring his friend, Clarence, along on a “luxury vacation.” Where we are not told. But we do not have to know everything. Crow also spent money purchasing Thomas a picture of himself for his alma mater, the Yale Law School. Will Yale hang it? I do not know. And something about a cannery was mentioned, or was it a can? I have forgotten. Crow also has made donations to a wing at a library in Savannah, Georgia, that will bear Thomas’ name. I have not seen the library’s catalog of books to be displayed there, but so far as I know, none is subversive or even pornographic.

Nor is Thomas the only member of the court to be endowed by rich Americans. In 2008, Leo arranged a “fishing trip” for Justice Samuel Alito, and another of those “billionaires” who hover around the Supreme Court gave him a “free ride” in his private jet. But wait a minute. Leo is not the only person picking up the tab for his friends on the court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the subject of a generous documentary on her. And the people who put the documentary together claim it is content that “stands at the intersection of art and activism.” The founder of the documentary claims to have “donated to left-leaning causes.” How stunning.

If this is confusing to you, consider this. The piece goes on for what seems like an eternity. The people at The Post seem to think that they have unearthed a conspiracy of some sort orchestrated by Leonard Leo and perpetrated by Clarence Thomas. Actually, I am familiar with much of what appeared in The Post last week, and I did not think it was so astonishing. It was mostly old news, and if there was anything in The Post piece that was new news, that is because the new news is misinformation.

Consider this. The Post claims, “The extent of Leo’s involvement in the public relations campaign, including the financial backing for websites and articles defending Thomas, has not been previously disclosed.” I have known about Leo’s involvement roughly since it began. So has anyone who looked into it. Leonard, it is money well spent. Carry on, comrade.

Glory to Ukraine!

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.