Despite the vast differences between public education then and public education today, Justice Thomas evidently believes the question of whether students have free-speech rights should be answered by conducting an imaginary séance with 18th- and 19th-century Framers and ratifiers, who should be asked: Do you think public-school students have a constitutional right to free speech while in school? This line of inquiry is about as productive as asking an only child: Imagine you have a sister. Now, does she like cheese? . . . he asks how those alive at the relevant time would have applied that language to a set of facts different than we face today. This elevates the expectations of the ratifiers and Framers over the meaning of the text itself.
One more reason that Democrats need to take a hard line on ideological conservative justices, who seem to be the President's favorite kind, after all, he has specifically said that he wants to appoint Justices like Justice Thomas.