[Thomas] turned up in a Washington ballroom the other night to respond to questions from the winners of a high school essay contest. His answers and the remarks that preceded them provided a revealing look at Justice Thomas’s worldview these days.Wow, that sounds pretty bad. Is it possible that Liptak misunderstood the nature of Thomas' complaint? Why, yes he did, as should be apparent by a quick read of the very next paragraph.
[...] though the dinner was sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, he admitted to an uneasy relationship with the whole idea of rights.
[...] The event, on March 31, was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.
‘Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”The rights in the first ten amendments are specific and enumerated. How can there be a "proliferation" of enumerated rights in those amendments? Further, the rights in Amendments 1 through 10 are focused on protecting individuals and institutions from the abuse of government power.
Thomas isn't complaining about that. He's complaining about a proliferation of other "rights", ones not found in the Constitution, ones focused on the presumed entitlement of individuals, ones which are always exercised at the expense of others. One might go so far as to say that the exercise of many of these "rights" depends of the abuse of government power.
The distinction is obvious in this paragraph:
He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.”I, for one, join Justice Thomas in his complaint.