Surely readers are not surprised that Judge Clarence Thomas would take a swipe at the U.S. Supreme Court's newest justice. Because she's a woman? Or because she's of Hispanic descent? Or maybe just because she knows the law better than he does?
The Supreme Court released its first four decisions in argued cases this term on Tuesday.They were all minor, but one was notable for being Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court debut and for prompting a testy concurrence from Justice Clarence Thomas.
The case concerned whether federal trial-court rulings concerning the lawyer-client privilege may be appealed right away. Justice Sotomayor, with methodical reasoning and a formal writing style, said no.
“Permitting parties to undertake successive, piecemeal appeals of all adverse attorney-client rulings,” she wrote, “would unduly delay the resolution of district court litigation and needlessly burden the courts of appeals.”
The decision was unanimous, but Justice Clarence Thomas declined to join the part of Justice Sotomayor’s opinion discussing why the cost of allowing immediate appeals outweighs the possibility that candid communications between lawyers and their clients might be chilled.
In a concurrence, Justice Thomas took a swipe at his new colleague, saying she had “with a sweep of the court’s pen” substituted “value judgments” and “what the court thinks is a good idea” for the text of a federal law.
NOTE: I thought I posted this yesterday but it was sitting in draft.