The Corner

Clarence Thomas, Similar to His Colleagues

This is a headline from today’s New York Times:

Readers who do not make it past the headline — or who see the story referenced on social media — could be forgiven for thinking that the piece reveals Thomas to be a particularly egregious offender here. But it doesn’t, as paragraph 15 — yes, 15 — confirms:

Over the years, the average rate of nearly identical language between a party’s brief and the majority opinion was 9.6 percent. Justice Thomas’s rate was 11.3 percent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s was 11 percent, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 10.5 percent. All three sometimes produce institutional prose.

This pattern — of singling Thomas out for tendencies that are by no means unique to him — is a common one, I’ve noticed.

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