I sure wouldn’t want to cross Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. In his semihysterical, mean-spirited diatribe (Cultural Revolutions, January 1992), he manages to charge Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with perjury, perversion, and racial opportunism. And that’s just for openers. Although I probably lost count, there are some twenty-five negative references to Thomas’s character, ideology, or intellect. Being the Antichrist is about the only thing Rockwell doesn’t accuse Thomas of (although “another Thurgood Marshall” may be the Rockwellian equivalent).

Granted, President Bush considered Thomas’s race in selecting him as the nominee. Would Rockwell have rather seen Robert Bork renominated? Remember, this is a more liberal Senate than the one that rejected Bork for being “out of the mainstream.” Or would Rockwell prefer another “stealth” candidate, like David Souter? Unless he can name a better candidate who would also be viable, he himself deserves the “whiner” label he pins on Thomas.

As most everyone concedes, the confirmation process is highly political. Bush had to win over a Senate that had become increasingly hostile to conservative nominees. An affirmative-action nomination of a black conservative was a brilliant move that eventually succeeded, despite a last-minute sexual harassment brouhaha. (Could any other nominee who had expressed reservations about affirmative action be confirmed?) Apparently, though, success does not satisfy Rockwell. Better to be defeated and remain ideologically pure, I suppose.

Finally, I would note that affirmative action is not morally objectionable so long as it is voluntary. It is only when racial or other preferences are codified into law (with punishments specified for transgressors) that they become anathema to freedom.

        —Phillip Goldstein
Brooklyn, NY

Mr. Rockwell Replies:

Mr. Goldstein is right. There is nothing morally wrong with hiring and promoting on the basis of race. As Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School demonstrates in Forbidden Ground, homogeneous firms also tend to be more efficient.

For the Supreme Court, we should seek homogeneity as well: no intellectual lightweights, let alone a 1970’s liberal version. We need smart, courageous, and scholarly right-wingers. Mr. Thomas’s ghostwriter did criticize “quotas.” But during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Thomas testified under oath, again and again, that freedom of contract and association should be violated for egalitarian social engineering. We now know that, as an appeals court judge, Mr. Thomas endorsed affirmative action for blacks while opposing it for white women.

Did we really have to accept this neocon nonentity (or do I repeat myself)? Not if we had a man in the White House. Patrick Buchanan as President would nominate one brilliant conservative jurist after another, making a national fight over each. Eventually, the Senate would have to confirm one, and in the meantime, the public would learn about the nature of a constitutional republic. The Thomas hearings, on the other hand, were one long victimological aria. As to those more qualified than Mr. Thomas, Chronicles refuses to allow me the rest of this issue for the A’s.