Jeffrey Toobin's New Yorker well-hyped blog post "Clarence Thomas’s Disgraceful Silence" is not kind to Justice Thomas:
His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.
Ian Millhiser at Think Progress tells his left-wing readers in "Beware: Clarence Thomas Is One Of America’s Top Legal Minds" to be careful, comparing Justice Thomas's influence on the development of the law to the influence of the late Justice Hugo Black:
The genius of Black’s appeal to constitutional text and the original purposes of the framers, is that it allowed him to root his own decisions in something even more authoritative than the precedents he despised. In the era when justices routinely struck down child labor laws and similar regulations, according to Black, “the power of legislatures became what this Court would declare it to be at a particular time” regardless of whether the text of the Constitution justified these limits on legislative power. Black, by contrast, promised to restore the true Constitution that his predecessors had abandoned.
And Damon Root at Reason says that the Toobin piece is embarrassing--to the New Yorker--for suggesting that Justice Thomas's silence signifies inattention:
This is nonsense. I’ve attended a number of oral arguments in the past two years and I’ve routinely seen Thomas leaning forward, watching the lawyers (and his colleagues), and even conferring quite enthusiastically with both Justice Stephen Breyer (to his right) and Justice Antonin Scalia (to his left). In fact, during the first day of the March 2012 Obamacare oral arguments, which centered on whether an 1867 tax law barred the legal challenge to the health care law from going forward, I watched Thomas and Breyer together poring over a massive book that appeared to be a volume of the U.S. tax code. What were they up to? It’s possible Thomas was suggesting a line of questioning for Breyer to use. After all, as Thomas told an audience at Harvard law school, he sometimes helps generate Breyer’s material. “I’ll say, ‘What about this, Steve,’ and he’ll pop up and ask a question,” Thomas said. “So you can blame some of those [Breyer questions] on me.”
Toobin is either himself guilty of not paying attention, or he is perhaps too eager to bend the facts in order to paint his opponents in an unflattering light.