Obama on Mass Shootings; Paul Campaign's Struggles; What House Members Want; Thurgood Marshall's Fight

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Good morning, it’s Friday, October 2, 2015. On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall took the oath of office as the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. By that time Marshall was well-known is legal circles as an NAACP lawyer whose career had been dedicated to persuading the high court to start reversing a century’s worth of ill-considered jurisprudence that enabled the official edifices of racism and segregation.

In other words, 48 years ago today Thurgood Marshall swore fealty to a Constitution he’d already been trying to shape, and improve. This work, which would now continue with him on the bench, was no small task -- as he knew better than most.

“I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it,” he quipped. “I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.”

I’ll have a few more quotes from Thurgood in a moment. First, let me direct you to RCP’s front page, which contains the latest poll averages, political news and video, and aggregated opinion pieces ranging across the ideological spectrum. We also have a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors:

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Obama on Shootings: Only Voters Can Stop “Carnage.”  A grim president called on Americans to engage in the fight for “common-sense” gun control laws. Alexis Simendinger has the story.

Paul Campaign Insists It’s Not Folding Tent. Rand Paul’s numbers are in the cellar, but he claims he’s just getting warmed up, as Caitlin Huey-Burns reports here.

In Post-Boehner Era, Republicans Want New House Processes. James Arkin dissects the issues and dynamics that underpin the election for leadership spots next week.

Cotton: Russian Role in Syria “Near Catastrophe” for U.S. James reports on the Arkansas senator’s comments yesterday at an RCP-sponsored foreign policy forum.

Keepin' It RealClear: The Hillary Clinton Media Tour. Rebecca Berg wraps up the latest news in RCP’s weekly video.

What an Election Cycle This Should Be for the GOP. Andy Puzder has some words of advice for Republican voters tempted by the outsiders making presidential bids.

Republicans, Please Elevate the Discussion. Robert Heiler and Ellen Brandt take exception to the tone of Mark Salter’s attack on Ted Cruz.

Hard Power and ISIS Foreign Recruitment. In RealClearDefense, Jeff Goodson advocates an aggressive strategy to deal with foreign terrorist fighters flocking to join Islamic State forces.

 *         *          *

Like every African-American reformer of his generation, Thurgood Marshall drew on lessons from his own experience. He was the son of a Baltimore railroad porter who later worked at a Maryland country club open only to whites. His mother was a school teacher at a segregated school. When Marshall graduated from college in 1930, he was denied access to the law school at University of Maryland because of his race.

He was accepted at Howard University Law School -- his mother pawned her wedding and engagement rings to help pay the tuition -- graduating first in his class in 1933. When Thurgood Marshall argued as an advocate against the ills of “separate, but equal” education before a court he would join a decade later, he knew what he was talking about.

He didn’t die while serving on the court as a very old man, and he didn’t live to be 110. This was probably unlikely for someone who eschewed any exercise, as he joked, more strenuous than lifting a poker chip. On June 27, 1991, he wrote a letter to President George H.W. Bush announcing his retirement.

Thurgood Marshall left behind a generation’s worth of jurisprudence on a wide-ranging set of issues. He was, for one thing, a staunch defender of the First Amendment. Here, courtesy of legal scholar David L. Hudson Jr., are Marshall quotes from five free-speech cases.

--“If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.” (Stanley v. Georgia, 1969)

--“But, above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” (Police Department of City of Chicago v. Mosley, 1972)

-- “The First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit -- a spirit that demands self-expression. Such expression is an integral part of the development of ideas and a sense of identity.” (Procunier v. Martinez, 1974)

--“Vigilance is necessary to ensure that public employers do not use authority over employees to silence discourse, not because it hampers public functions but simply because superiors disagree with the content of employees’ speech.” (Rankin v. McPherson, 1987)

--“The level of discourse reaching a mailbox simply cannot be limited to that which would be suitable for a sandbox.” (Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products, 1983).

Carl M. Cannon         
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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