I agree that Justice Thomas should have satisfied his pride with what you suggested, a scathing letter to the editor [Hot Type, November 24].
I believe that, instead, he let the locker-room machismo of his former career overshadow the circumspection that would more properly befit a state supreme court justice. His suit, even if it were to benefit him personally, could do great harm to the legal system he heads. Any appellate panel that touches this will be second-guessed, and the upholding of the verdict will--rightly or wrongly--cast the whole concept of impartiality into question. How could it possibly not?
But even beyond that, the Illinois court system is an elective system. Politics are part and parcel of such a system. To suggest that politics would play a part in the determination of a sanction against an elected county prosecutor is not defamation, it's common sense. The only question is the degree to which politics impacted that decision.
When the judges are politicians, politics will be on the mind of the judges every time they take the bench. The good ones can and do set the political considerations aside. But I'm not necessarily arguing for a change in the system. Given the overall character of the elected officials foisted upon our state over the years, letting them appoint judges does not seem any more appetizing. I only note that we should be cognizant of the real pressures and perceived impact of the system that we have. Justice Thomas's failure to consider this disserves us all.