In a seven-to-one ruling, the US Supreme Court threw out a Georgia State Supreme Court ruling and granted a new trial to a black man convicted by a jury that prosecutors had carefully constructed as all-white. The sole dissenting voice was Clarence Thomas.
You can imagine the hateful rhetoric that is being poured on his head this afternoon. However, if you follow the link above you can read his dissent. The media reports I read before I found a link to the actual ruling suggested that Thomas sets a ridiculously high bar before he will accept that race has anything to do with a conviction. The argument actually goes something like this:
1) Our laws say that Federal courts should only overturn state courts where there is a clear Federal law issue.
2) The argument being forwarded by the majority is that the racial bias in jury selection is a Federal issue that gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction.
3) That is only true if there is some reason to think Georgia's courts didn't adequately address the issues of bias in their own consideration of this case.
4) Georgia's State Supreme Court ruled that this jury construction didn't plausibly affect the outcome of this case.
5) They're almost certainly right about that, because the murderer confessed to the murder, as well as to sexually violating his victim before killing her.
Thomas may be the only one thinking clearly about the issues of race in this case. Everyone else is blinded by the fear that America's original sin, racism, may have been a factor in the prosecution's conduct. Thomas is calmly pointing out that there's little doubt that nearly any jury would have convicted him and sentenced him to death.
More to the point, he's right that -- given the facts of the case -- death is the correct penalty for this murderer. The Court is merely delaying the application of justice. They are doing so, as he says, without adequately grappling with the question of whether or not they have any legitimate authority to interfere.