One week after I wrote that Justice Clarence Thomas is the only reliable conservative vote on the Supreme Court, he proved it once again with his scolding rebuke of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s majority decision in Flowers v. Mississippi.
You can read the details of the case in Daniel Horowitz’s excellent analysis at Conservative Review, but in the meantime here is Horowitz’s summary:
In Flowers v. Mississippi, Kavanaugh wrote a 7-2 majority opinion overturning a sixth conviction of a cold-blooded murderer who was convicted of killing four people 23 years ago. Although he was convicted with evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt, in Kavanagh’s view the jury pool was racist. Overturning state due process: This is yet another example of the growing trend of the federal courts taking over state criminal law procedures and according the worst criminals a degree of process that would confound our Founders. And it’s most often because of racial politics.
Nobody disputes the fact that the Mississippi courts convicted Curtis Flowers for the murders based on solid eyewitness and physical evidence and that the jury’s verdict itself was impartial. However, Kavanaugh and the other six justices believe that the Mississippi Supreme Court erred in ruling that one particular peremptory (discretionary) strike conducted by the prosecutor against someone in the jury pool at jury selection for the original trial was animated by “discriminatory intent” and therefore entitles Flowers to a seventh trial!
Thomas didn’t believe that the lower court made any mistake and instead wrote that “The only clear errors in this case are committed by today’s majority.” He wrote the following, which is so clear that it is hard to imagine what the other justices were thinking:
Confirming that we never should have taken this case, the Court almost entirely ignores—and certainly does not refute—the race-neutral reasons given by the State for striking Wright and four other black prospective jurors. Two of these prospective jurors knew Flowers’ family and had been sued by Tardy Furniture—the family business of one of the victims and also of one of the trial witnesses. One refused to consider the death penalty and apparently lied about working side-by-side with Flowers’ sister. One was related to Flowers and lied about her opinion of the death penalty to try to get out of jury duty. And one said that because she worked with two of Flowers’ family members, she might favor him and would not consider only the evidence presented. The state courts’ findings that these strikes were not based on race are the opposite of clearly erroneous; they are clearly correct.
It should be noted that Justice Gorsuch was the only justice who joined Justice Thomas in his dissent. There is still hope for Gorsuch, but he is nowhere near as reliable as Thomas. Sadly, in another decision issued Monday, Gorsuch sided with the four “liberal” justices to overturn a common sense law that permitted harsher penalties for felons who used violence in the commission of their crimes.
Let this be a warning to President Trump. Appointing justices from his list of pre-approved candidates is no guarantee of anything. The president should trust his instincts and not his advisers. If he had appointed Amy Coney Barrett instead of Kavanaugh, as he reportedly wanted to do, we would now be much closer to a secure conservative majority.
Let’s hope he gets the chance to appoint one or two more justices before he is done, and let’s hope the results are more consistent.
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To read more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy or “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?”. They are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions.
Also visit Heartland Diary on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1FmrOF2TF-njRznqoU4yjA