Thomas’ case in point: Warrick Dunn, the author of the 2008 memoir Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond. Dunn, formerly a star NFL running back, is a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons. Brumfield murdered Dunn’s mother when Dunn was 18. Here’s how Thomas sets up the case:
This case is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, we have Kevan Brumfield, a man who murdered Louisiana police officer Betty Smothers and who has spent the last 20 years claiming that his actions were the product of circumstances beyond his control. On the other hand, we have Warrick Dunn, the eldest son of Corporal Smothers, who responded to circumstances beyond his control by caring for his family, building a professional football career, and turning his success on the field into charitable work off the field.
Thomas spends several pages in his 27-page dissent contrasting Brumfield with Dunn. In case his meaning isn’t clear enough, Thomas adds a footnote, saying, “Like Brumfield, Warrick’s father was not a part of his life. But, unlike Brumfield, Warrick did not use the absence of a father figure as a justification for murder.” Thomas goes on to spend another few paragraphs detailing all of Dunn’s charitable contributions and activism, before taking a dig at Brumfield for filing too many appeals. Thomas accuses the majority justices of being insensitive to the horrific nature of the crime and for ignoring the victims in this case. To drive the point home, he attached a photo of Dunn’s mother (copied from Dunn’s memoir) to his dissent.
Several pages! Photos!
Can this please start a trend of citing NFL players’ lives in Supreme Court cases? A few possible examples:
1) How about Alito citing Kurt Warner’s autobiography about how turning to Jesus and hard work to support your dream is constitutionally superior to relying on government programs if you are poor? Seems like a great cite for eliminating the Fair Labor Standards Act!
2) Or perhaps Anthony Kennedy citing Brett Favre’s brilliant autobiography on why drug sentences should be reduced. For certain people anyway.
3) And maybe, just maybe, Scalia will cite the life of OJ Simpson to show how poor African-Americans rise to have successful careers and therefore the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is unconstitutional.
Really the possibilities are endless.