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Just this term, Thomas called on the court to reconsider a landmark 1964 First Amendment case, describing it and later decisions extending it as "policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law ." He also criticized a 1963 Supreme Court decision that guarantees a lawyer for anyone too poor to hire one. And he equated [sic] the court's Roe v. Wade [?] abortion decision with its Dred Scott [?] decision , which said African Americans weren't citizens, labeling Both "notoriously incorrect."
Limbs va. Indiana (Feb 2019), Ginsburg for the majority, Held: "The Eighth Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause [narrow!] is an incorporated protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause [narrow!]." Thomas' objects to qualification by "due process"; citizenship unequivocally merits protection.
The 39th Congress focused on these abuses during its debates over the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the Freedmen's Bureau Act. During those well-publicized debates, Members of Congress consistently highlighted and lamented the "severe penalties" inflicted by the Black Codes and similar measures, Cong.Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 474 (1866)(Sen. Trumbull), suggesting that the prohibition on excessive fines was understood to be a basic right of citizenship. [...] Similar examples abound. One congressman noted that Alabama's "aristocratic and anti-republican laws, almost reenacting slavery, among other harsh inflictions impose...a fine of fifty dollars and six months' imprisonment on any servant or laborer (white or black) who loiters away his time or is stubborn or refractory." Id., at 1621 (Rep.Myers). He also noted that Florida punished vagrants with "a fine not exceeding $500 and imprison[ment] for a term not exceeding twelve months, or by being sold for a term not exceeding twelve months, at the discretion of the court." Ibid. At the time, such fines would have been ruinous for laborers. Cf. id., at 443 (Sen. Howe) ("A thou-sand dollars! That sells a negro for his life"). These and other examples of excessive fines from the historical record informed the Nation's consideration of the Fourteenth Amendment.
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