Thomas: Hypocritic Oath?

Clarence Thomas vowed to bring something different" to the Supreme Court, but in four months on the bench he has asked few questions in oral argument and voted in all but one case with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The alliance is understandable. Not only is Scalia an aggressive and articulate proselytizer but one of his former law clerks now works for Thomas. The clerk, NEWSWEEK has learned, exerts considerable influence over the rookie justice.

Last week, for example, in a dissent that drew an unusual rebuke from the seven-member court majority in a prison case, Scalia joined Thomas in declaring that beating a manacled prisoner may not violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. "Thomas and Scalia are one person with two votes," complains Bob Peck of the American Civil Liberties Union. And court observers have even given them a nickname: The D.C. Duo.