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Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution

Wednesday May 2019


Myron Magnet Editor-at-large, City Journal

When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1991, he found, to his dismay, that it was interpreting a very different Constitution from the one the framers had written. From his experience growing up in segregated Savannah, to fl irting with black radicalism at college, to running a federal agency that supposedly advanced equality, Thomas doubted that judges and other unelected experts could understand the moral arc of the universe better than voters—or that, on the whole, such experts’ rules and rulings would make lives better, not worse.

In the hundreds of opinions that Thomas has since written, he has questioned the constitutional underpinnings of the current order and tried to restore the original one—as more legitimate, more just, and more free. Today, writes journalist and historian Myron Magnet in Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution, America’s highest court seems poised, more than ever, to follow the trail that Thomas has blazed.

Myron Magnet is editor-at-large of City Journal, where he served as editor during 1994–2006. Previously, he was on the board of editors of Fortune. Magnet’s other books include The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735–1817 (2013), The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclass (1993), and Dickens and the Social Order (1985). In 2008, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Bush. Magnet holds B.A.s from Columbia University and the University of Cambridge, an M.A. from Cambridge, and a Ph.D. from Columbia.