Snyder: Alternative Headlines

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 19 2008 7:28 PM

Snyder: Alternative Headlines

Diane, you summarized today's Snyder decision with "Today the issue of race divided conservatives in America."  But by that mode of reasoning, you just as well could have offered, "Today the issue of race divided lawyers in America; African-American vote unanimously criticizes Court's decision."  Or maybe "Conservatives in America show diverse views; liberals vote in lockstep."

I dare say that all three of those headlines are equally lacking. 

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As Justice Thomas's opinion demonstrates, the dissent's analysis turned on the factual content of the record, and demonstrated Thomas's customary hesitation to overturn the record and findings of the trial court.  

In the end, I can't say that I'd necessarily agree (or disagree) with Justice Thomas's conclusion.  That said, it's a stretch (to say the least) to assert that Justice Thomas's rigorous rule of deference to the trial court's findings -- a rule strongly consistent with Thomas's record in general -- is illustrative of larger societal issues.

And your pointless thumb in the eye of conservatives probably isn't the sort of "coming together" moment that Barack Obama is calling for, no?