Thomas Sowell

A racist cartoon, linking Janice Rogers Brown with Justice Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, was on display at the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings on Justice Brown's nomination to the federal Court of Appeals in Washington.

Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch put the cartoon on display to show what ugly methods were being used to try to block this nomination. The fact that Justice Brown is a black woman is by no means irrelevant to the ruthless ferocity with which she is being attacked. She has been denounced as "another Clarence Thomas."

Janice Rogers Brown is being seen, not just as a threat to the liberal agenda in the courts, but also as a threat to political orthodoxy among blacks, a key voting bloc for the Democrats. For her to go from her current position on the California Supreme Court to national prominence would threaten the monopoly of the liberal-left mindset among blacks.

Black "leaders" like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and black organizations like the NAACP, must maintain a monopoly because they cannot risk everything in a free market of ideas. Therefore they must demonize Clarence Thomas and cut off at the pass anyone who might become another nationally visible black voice with alternative ideas.

The whole Democratic Party has a huge vested interest in a solid black vote today that is like the "solid South" which Democrats relied on in national elections back in the days of Jim Crow. As a Republican, Justice Brown is a threat to that monolithic solidarity, even if she never says a word about politics.

Democrats -- black and white alike -- realize that she must be stopped right here and right now, before she can gain national prominence as a federal appeals judge, who might well end up on the U.S. Supreme Court in future years. Janice Rogers Brown and Clarence Thomas both on the same Supreme Court is a liberals' nightmare.

None of this has anything to do with the merits of a judicial nominee but it has a lot to do with the politics of judicial nominations.

Nor are such political character assassinations limited to issues involving race. Ever since a ruthless campaign of smears and lies defeated the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, the techniques of mass-production demonization of nominees has been perfected by liberal-left organizations.

What is baffling is why so little has been done by those on the other side to counter these well-known tactics that have been applied so ruthlessly by the left over the past 16 years.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate