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14. The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked
Mon Jul 4, 2022, 06:36 PM
Jul 2022

In the legal community, Thomas is considered to be one of the worst SCOTUS justices in history


5) Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas is the only current member of the Supreme Court who has explicitly embraced the reasoning of Lochner Era decisions striking down nationwide child labor laws and making similar attacks on federal power. Indeed, under the logic Thomas first laid out in a concurring opinion in United States v. Lopez, the federal minimum wage, overtime rules, anti-discrimination protections for workers, and even the national ban on whites-only lunch counters are all unconstitutional.

Though Thomas’s views are rare today, they have, sadly, not been the least bit uncommon during the Supreme Court’s history. He makes this list because, frankly, he should know better than his predecessors. As I explain in Injustices, many of the justices who resisted progressive legislation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were, like Field, motivated by ideology. Many others, however, were motivated by fear of the rapid changes state and federal lawmakers implemented in the wake of the even more rapid changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. It was possible to believe, in a world where factories, railroads, and the laws required to regulate factories and railroads were all very new things, that these laws would, as Herbert Hoover once said about the New Deal, “destroy the very foundations of our American system” by extending “government into our economic and social life.”

But Thomas has the benefit of eighty years of American history that Hoover had not witnessed when he warned of an overreaching government. In that time, the Supreme Court largely abandoned the values embraced by Justice Field, and the United States became the mightiest nation in the history of politics and the wealthiest nation in the history of money.
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