The Loudness of Justice Thomas
17 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2011
In this Article, published in conjunction with my participation in the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review's symposium commemorating Justice Thomas's 20th year on the Supreme Court, I contest the notion of Justice Thomas as the Court's Quiet Man. Rather, I suggest that Justice Thomas's many provocative opinions demonstrate a judicial voice that is quite loud and commanding of attention, even if not especially or immediately influential. In exploring Justice Thomas's voice, I focus on his work in the areas of sentencing proportionality and individualization under the Eighth Amendment, giving special attention to his separate opinions in Graham v. Florida and Graham v. Collins. The Article concludes that Justice Thomas's voice in these areas highlights the difficulties of reigning Eighth Amendment orthodoxy. If taken seriously, his voice could reshape the way we think about the Constitution's relationship to modern criminal sentencing.
Keywords: Justice Thomas, Supreme Court, Eighth Amendment, death penalty
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