Justice Thomas Still Fascinated by Dishwashers

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Speaking to a group of students on April 13 at a dinner sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas admitted that he is perpetually enthralled by the Miracle of the Dishwashing Machine:

I have to admit . . . that I’m one of those people that still thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. What a device! And I have to admit that because I think that way . . . . I like to load it. I like to look in and see how that dishes were magically cleaned.

He got on this subject because he was talking about how, in his view, people should remember that things like the magic dish-box, the horseless carriage, and even Mr. Bell's Long-Distance-Shouting Device are luxuries, not entitlements.  "It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living," he said.  "They're owed air-conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions."  Not so, he opined.  (He did not speak, like everybody's grandpa, of how back in his day he had to walk 20 miles to school through a waist-deep swamp or whatever, but I would guess that he probably did have to wash the dishes by hand.)

These aren't rights, Thomas told the kids.  In fact, he made pretty clear that he thinks this whole "rights" business is way overdone these days.  "Today there is much focus on our rights," he said, a little disapprovingly.  "Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.  I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances.  Shouldn't there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?"  Which Constitution is this again?  This demoting of the Bill of Rights to being just part of a trinity might have puzzled students a little, especially given that Thomas was speaking at the "Bill of Rights Institute."

Rather than dwell on that too much, though, I prefer to linger on my mental picture of Justice Thomas relaxing at home in his slippers, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and yanking the door open every now and then to try to catch that magical moment when the dishes actually get clean.

Link: New York Times