Thomas' leadership on the Second Amendment reflects his frequent forays into history. Many of his opinions track the development of the law from the 18th or even the 17th century, and in many such cases, all or almost all his colleagues concur.
In addition, as Toobin accurately reports, Thomas is the strongest "originalist" on the court, the justice who most consistently seeks to apply the provisions of the Constitution as they originally were understood.
This has led him to take positions, sometimes in lonely dissent, that most New Yorker readers abhor. The 18th-century understanding of what constituted the "cruel and unusual punishments" banned by the Eighth Amendment is not widely shared these days on the Upper East Side of New York.
And Thomas' interpretation that the three post-Civil War amendments ban all racial quotas and preferences is anathema to the university administrators and corporate apparatchiks who employ them every day.
They might be embarrassed, however, if they actually read the parts of his opinions in which, with searing prose, he draws on his own experiences growing up in segregated Georgia and on his considerable knowledge of the history of oppression of black Americans.
And he brings up the embarrassing fact that the first gun control laws and limits on corporate campaign contributions were advanced by those who sought to deny rights to blacks.
Toobin's article represents the end of the fashionable left's attempt to portray Thomas as an intellectual lightweight. He admits that Thomas' silence on the bench, while colleagues pepper lawyers with questions, doesn't mean he's stupid.
Instead, he paints Thomas as a brilliant Svengali, ready to disregard precedent and -- the president's nightmare -- overturn Obamacare.
Congress has never before passed and the court has never upheld a law requiring individuals to buy a commercial product, as Obamacare does. On this, the Obama Democrats, not Clarence Thomas or judges following his lead, are the ones sweeping aside precedent.