Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ask not what you can do for yourself, ask what your country can do for you!

Supreme Court Justice Thomas visits Washington & Lee
March 16, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't make a lot of public appearances but he did Monday night at Washington and Lee University.

This was a homecoming of sorts for Justice Thomas.

He spoke at Washington and Lee before he became a Supreme Court justice and his son attended VMI back in the 90's.

"I have nothing, but fond memories of the time I came and spent here at VMI and here in Lexington," says Justice Thomas.

Justice Thomas touched on a number of topics during his speech inside Lee Chapel.

He says while most Americans appreciate the constitution they don't exactly know what's in it.

"It is at least as easy to understand that great document as it is to understand a cell phone contract," says Thomas.

Justice Thomas also believes too many Americans expect too much from their government.

"The message today seems more like ask not what you can do for yourselves or your country, but what your country must do for you," says Thomas.

It's not everyday you get insight into the Supreme Court.

Thomas says justices base their decisions on what the original framers intended, not their personal opinions.

He criticizes judges who do.

"What restrains us from imposing our personal views and police preferences on our fellow citizens under the guise of constitutional interpretation," says Thomas.

During a question and answer period with the audience, Thomas was asked a lot of questions.

One dealt with whether the constitution allowed slavery.

"I don't think there was any question slavery was constitutional. Was it moral? No. Was it wrong? Yes, but it was there," says Thomas.

Thomas spoke to a crowd of nearly 300 people.

He received a number of standing ovations.


LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas plans to visit Washington and Lee University for a rare public speech.

The 60-year-old Thomas is to speak Monday night in Lee Chapel as part of the Shenandoah Valley liberal arts school's Contact series.

The Georgia native took his seat on the court in 1991. Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia are considered the core of the court's conservative 5-4 majority.

Thomas endured a grueling confirmation process over allegations that he sexually harassed a former staffer of his, Anita Hill, who testified during the Senate hearings.

Since then, he has been one of the less public members of the court, although he made several appearances in 2007 to promote his autobiography.


Jim said...

I was looking to see if anyone had posted a video of his remarks yet but can't find one. Actually, I love to listen to all the justices speak even if I disagree with their philosophy. Recently I listened to talks given by Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg. Did you know they are very good friends? Anyway, it's always fascinating to get a peek into their minds since we don't get to listen to or see the court proceedings.

Anonymous said...

Jim, VN8 .... this apparently was a rare opportunity. I understand that Justice Thomas rarely speaks publicly so this woulda been a real treat. Jim you're right about the Friendship you spoke of ... this is a very exclusive fraternity. Perhaps at this intellectual level friendship trumps partisanship easily. I wish it were so for doofuses like me.