February 19, 2013

"I loved the D.C. Circuit... and I could've stayed there. But I think I got maneuvered into this job. And then I had a really bad interview."

Said Clarence Thomas in this wonderful hour-long conversation with Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. The Harvard law students give him a standing ovation as he arrives in the room, and he jokes "I should quit while I'm ahead."

In fact, he goes on to be warm, interesting, deep, smart, and there's just way too much good stuff in here for me to quote everything that jumps out, because, really, everything jumps out. If you skip over the long introduction and get to the first question, he talks about growing up among illiterate but good and loving people and then discovering reading at a segregated library in Savannah. The librarians introduced him to Dr. Seuss.



Minow and Thomas talk about their mutual love for a book about introversion called "Quiet," and Thomas characterizes himself as very introverted. He talks about working in all 3 branches of government and greatly preferring the judiciary because in the EEOC and in the legislature, though he loved the people, it was too political. "I don't understand politics.... It made my head hurt.... It was like new math."

ADDED: He says Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan are delightful. When Kagan arrived, he said to her: "You know, it's going to be a joy disagreeing with you for years to come."

AND: At oral arguments, Justice Breyer doodles stick figures. The 2 of them sit together at oral argument and share jokes and laugh. "You know, he's very smart, but he's sort of a moving around smart," he says, making a gesture as if he were moving Breyer's little stick figures around. "And I tend to be someone, I lock into something, I want to think it through for a long time, and he likes to move around, and I sort of rein him in. Every so often, what I'll is I'll say, 'What about this, Steve?' and he'll pop up and ask and a question." So that's how Clarence Thomas asks questions at oral argument. Thomas laughs because it's "just something I'm throwing out," and Breyer makes it into a question.

65 comments:

AllenS said...

"You know, it's going to be a joy disagreeing with you for years to come."

I like this guy.

edutcher said...

No, I think he gave a really good interview.

The HR people were a bunch of jerks.

Ann Althouse said...

he talks about growing up among illiterate but good and loving people and then discovering reading at a segregated library in Savannah.

That says a lot about how the environment has changed for black people.

Can't have any learning to think for themselves, can we?

No wonder Teddy Kennedy and VP Put Y'all In Chains feared and hated him. They always liked their underclasses ignorant and obedient.

Shanna said...

It was like new math.

LOL! Someone was trying to explain new math to me and it was so confusing. And regular math makes perfect sense! Gah.

hawkeyedjb said...

When we talk about diversity on the bench, Justice Thomas is exactly the kind of person we should be seeking. He certainly brings a very different set of life experiences to the court.

But 'liberals' and progressives hate him. Makes me think they don't really like diversity...

Palladian said...

Of all the Justices I've heard speak, I had the most immediate connection with Thomas. Out of all the current Justices, he's become my favorite, because he seems to understand the limitations of his job.

edutcher said...

Interesting how he says he likes the Short Shortstop.

She was supposed to seduce the Conservatives, but it doesn't look like it worked.

Ignacio said...

This is fascinating. After growing up and hearing him trashed so relentlessly, to finally come in some real contact with his personality is a very interesting, overdue experience. I forwarded this to several of my friends -- who may not watch, but that's out of my control.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

At the 23 minute and shortly thereafter:

A resonant laugh. I like his voice.

Lem said...

The interview is not even ten minutes on and the dean has mentioned Monsanto two times.

Monsanto is like the Koch Brothers of environmentalism.

Seeing Red said...

Those kids certainly got a different impression.

Trashed the libs, too, floved it.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Well sure, but what about that claim he throttled Justice Bradley?

ndspinelli said...

The books The Introvert Advantage and Quiet are two must reads for any introvert, and any parent of an introverted child. I suggest Ron Popeil put them up during his next infomercial.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Wonderful, wonderful man. We are very lucky to have him on the Court.

And it is never too late to say , "fuck you Anita Hill and all the despicable Defamation Left".

The Good Guys won this one.

traditionalguy said...

Clarence Thomas is a typical south east Georgia man. The older settlements in southeastern Georgia starting from Savannah and moving up river to Augusta and then westward is a different culture from the newer areas north and west of Macon that were settled 100 years later after Indian Treaties opened them.

The culture in southeast Georgia tends to be civil, family oriented and honoring of a man's work habits and character more than his wealth. Many of my best friends were raised in Savannah and Statesboro.

I saw a NFL Channel bio this weekend on the Sharpe brothers, Shannon that played in Green Bay and Sterling that played in Denver. Their characters are typical of that culture being from Glenville. Which also reminds me of NFL player and coach Dan Reeves from Americus. He is another public example of a man raised in that culture.



Roger Zimmerman said...

Besides his excellent character, Justice Thomas is the most consistently supportive of the institutional safeguards for individual rights. Not perfect, but the best we have on the Court. I can't help but think his judicial leanings in this direction were formed in the crucible of his upbringing, where he saw what was possible for individuals to achieve alone and in voluntary cooperation with each other.

dreams said...

He is a good man, I read his book and really enjoyed it. I know people like the good uneducated people he was talking about.

ricpic said...

The truth is finally out, Breyer is Thomas' marionette!

David said...

Oh my God, he's human after all. What will the liberals do now?

And yes they have dehumanized him. Their narrative deliberately tried to strip him of joy, compassion, humor, ambiguity, intellect, competence, honor and dignity.

He became a caricature in their telling--a oversexed, shifty, degenerate, crafty, lying black man (and with a white woman!)

Classic disgusting racist bigotry from the left.

They need to do a lot more than a few warm and fuzzy interviews to make up for that.

dreams said...

Before the Brown decision, blacks received a much better education because they were taught by dedicated, proud of their race, black teachers who demanded the best from their students. The liberals and their war on poverty also destroyed the black family and now we have Obama.

LarsPorsena said...

To the left...just another cornball brother.

WaitingToBuy said...

We don't need the Supreme Court anymore. The decision on Obamacare proved that.

WaitingToBuy said...

We don't need the Supreme Court anymore. The decision on Obamacare proved that.

Marshal said...

traditionalguy said...
Shannon that played in Green Bay and Sterling that played in Denver


The teams are reversed, and of course Shannon also played for the Ravens. Was this a test?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

@David...That method used on Thomas was brought back out and used on Herman Cain last year. The ease with which Americans will believe cliches about people they don't know with nothing but a suggestion or two still amazes this old trial lawyer who also used that method. But we had an opposing lawyer to limit our excesses. Today's Media is not doing an opponent's role at all.

traditionalguy said...

@Marshal....My apologies for a reversed memory. You passed the test.

mark said...

By time he graduated HS he had 3 years of Latin, 2 years of German, 2 years of French, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. In the segregated south.

What in the world has happened to the American education system?!

edutcher said...

People like William Ayers, Arne Duncan, and Albert Shanker.

mark said...

Oh noes! He drank water at 11:48! His career is over. So sad.

Michael K said...

It would be interesting to anyone wishing to compare the men, to read Jacob Heilbrunn's hateful piece about Thomas and his wife at Huffpo.

The contrast says a lot about the left.

stewati said...

I enjoyed this very much. Thanks for sharing.

EMD said...

After checking out the HuffPo piece, I can surmise that Anita Hill is one thin-skinned lady.

mark said...

The actions of liberals toward Justice Thomas and their actions to protect President Obama just reaffirms my understanding of who liberals are.

In their heart liberals are slave owners who hate free people. Hate with an evil face and an evil passion.

Lance said...

At 50:36, Justice Thomas says...

I was just thinking, I was doing the math in my mind, I wound up on the Court seventeen years after I graduated. Seventeen years went very fast, and I made my final payments on my student loan my third term on the Court.

Wow. Is this normal for Yale graduates from the 70's? Is Yale just that expensive, or did Thomas earn less than normal?

jr565 said...

I just noticed. He sounds a lot like Thomas Sowell. Even when he laughs.

great Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this. I glanced at it and was going to just watch a few minutes, but couldn't "put the book down."

eddie willers said...

The actions of liberals toward Justice Thomas

One good thing came out of the High Tech Lynching™ of Thomas.

THIS lifelong Democrat vowed to never vote Democrat again.

edutcher said...

The second he got mad and told off those clowns, I started to like him.

Astro said...

What a contrast to Obama, in every possible way.

Rusty said...

A man of character vs a man without any.

Re: Astro

Tom said...

How lucky are we that at least on branch of the federal government is brilliant, highly committed to doing the right things and willing to work (think) really hard?!

R. Chatt said...

Wow, stunning.

Third Coast said...

One of very few people in the public arena that I have the utmost respect for. Think I read somewhere that in the summer he and his wife typically fire up the travel home and tour various parts of the USA. A real salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.

JAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

By time he graduated HS he had 3 years of Latin, 2 years of German, 2 years of French, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. In the segregated south.

Thomas didn't attend a segregated high school.

JAL said...

I haven;t listened yet -- but I was surprised that Harvard Law actually invited him and the students let him speak. Doesn't he often get trashed by the tolerant and diverse left?

Michael K has mentioned his book a couplel times. My husband read it and was very impressed. He passed it along to a young black friend, but somehow I don't think he got around to reading it. Thomas being off the plantation and all that.

Funny how Thomas and Carson have life stories that are stunning and positive and yet the left goes out of its way to discredit them. BHO looks like a pale pretender next to them.

Saint Croix said...

One of the things that struck me about his talk was his reference to the collegiality on the Court, and how much he likes Ginsburg and Breyer and Kagan. Scalia used to say that about Ginsburg, too, how happy he was that she was joining the Court, because he loves fighting with her. And I find that collegiality very sweet and nice. It would be wonderful to live your life and get along with everybody and love your enemies. That’s a basic Christian ideal, right? Love your enemies.

But I’m also struck by how there aren’t any pro-lifers on the Court. Nobody argues that an unborn baby is a person who is entitled to the equal protection of the laws. Nobody argues in Carhart or Carhart II that the murder statutes should apply. In short, nobody makes the pro-life argument that a baby in the womb—or halfway outside it--has a right to life.

So why not?

And it’s occurred to me that maybe this collegiality, this desire to get along with your coworkers and be happy and nice, is actually a sort of corruption. You don’t argue that a fetus is a baby, because then abortion is the killing of a baby. And if abortion is the killing of a baby, then our society is filled with baby-killers. The ad hominem follows the argument like night follows day.

Abolitionists said our Constitution was a "pact with the devil." Of course, that's an ad hominem, and lawyers are taught to avoid them like the plague. And yet, if you're an abolitionist, how do you stay friends with John C. Calhoun?

How do you make a pro-life argument while shaking hands with your best buddy, who not only disagrees with you, but is in charge of the infanticide program?

You can’t. It’s impossible. So the argument is never made. Not because the argument is false or wrong, but because it would be divisive, and cause great anger.

Ken said...

Let's not forget that Clarence Thomas is part of the black fold The Root would like to forget. Clearly Clarence Thomas is a demon and should be on a list comparing him to the DC sniper and Robert Mugabe. Apparently, being conservative, libertarian leaning, articulate black man makes one an evil too much to be born by the decent black folk over at The Root.

Revenant said...

Nobody argues that an unborn baby is a person who is entitled to the equal protection of the laws.

Probably because there is no legal precedent for doing so, and none of the conservatives on the court are particularly fond of the "let's just make some shit up" technique of jurisprudence.

Hell, children who have actually *been born* aren't considered entitled to the equal protection of the laws. If they were, your son could have you prosecuted for assault and battery when you spank him.

Moneyrunner said...


Saint Croix, you have put into words something that has bothered me for a long time. I admire Thomas along with Scalia more than anyone else on the Court. But how can you be close friends with someone with whom you disagree, where those disagreements involve some of the most basic moral issues? Life or death, freedom or oppression? To take an extreme example, can people simply agree to disagree about the Final Solution, but still be friends and colleagues? Roberts is reported to have reversed his opinion on the ObamaCare case and people cite as evidence Scalia’s dissent. It seems that Scalia was angry, but only until after the decision was handed down. All we hear from the Supremes is how they like and admire each other. I wonder whether members of the Court believe that their decisions are a game they are playing each session, and at the end they count the score, determine who won and arrange to play again the next year? You don’t get mad at the people you play games with and if you want to play again you maintain a collegial atmosphere and say nice things about each other. Because games don’t really matter very much. And the Game of the Court? Does it matter? I would love to have an answer from one of them.

mark said...

Revenant said...
Thomas didn't attend a segregated high school.


He was the only black kid in a school ... in the segregated south. A kid who didn't have regular meals until he was 7 and sent to live with his grandparents.

Do you see our school systems offering poor black kids the same educational advantages today? I don't.

David said...

Yet I wonder how many of those who applauded would have supported his nomination to the Supreme Court?
I'll wager the number is below 10%.

Revenant said...

He was the only black kid in a school ... in the segregated south.

A white class with a black kid in it is, by definition, not segregated.

mark said...

Revenant said...
mark said ... He was the only black kid in a school ... in the segregated south.

A white class with a black kid in it is, by definition, not segregated.


And that makes the south not segregated?

William said...

I didn't see the whole interview, but he made a forceful impression of a likeable, good natured man. His words were direct and even, at times, eloquent. This is a guy who has definitely been given a raw deal by the media. He continues to get a worse press than, say, Jesse Jackson Jr....Well, the Harvard students stood up and applauded. Maybe he will eventualy win the argument with history.

mark said...

William said...
Maybe he will eventualy win the argument with history.


Take the hour to watch the entire thing. This is a video that anyone interested in helping kids understand the importance of hard work, struggling, honesty, and education should watch. And watch it with your kids.

Just bypass the retards in the media and sit show it to your kids soon. Nothing like light and truth seen with their own eyes to disinfect the sickness that is the message of the left.

This video is a infinitely greater then the crap CNN for Kids and Time for Kids feeds the schools.

Gene said...

Someone mentioned that liberals and progressives hate Thomas. One reason, I always thought, is that he has a white wife. Another reason is that he is black and thus they can't just dismiss his conservative news as racist but rather have to refute them logically--always a tough task for liberals.

One final point. I am going to have to revise my opinion of Harvard Law School. The dean could not have been more gracious to Thomas.

Palladian said...

One final point. I am going to have to revise my opinion of Harvard Law School. The dean could not have been more gracious to Thomas.

I agree; Dean Minow was great. It's funny that we should be surprised that the Dean of a major law school was gracious and a capable interviewer of a Supreme Court Justice, but such is America in 2013.

Hopefully some of the students had to revise their opinions of Justice Thomas.

Unknown said...

I was appalled by the poor dress standards of many of the law students. T-shirts and poor grooming showed lack of respect for the Justice, their school, and themselves.

Dave Greene said...

Dean Minow seemed plastic. Some awkward, jarring questions, like that early one about his reaction to Harvard. Justice Thomas sidestepped it nicely. Her laugh was nasal, ingratiating and artificially loud.

nick said...

hes a liar and a sexist pig

Palladian said...

What did he lie about, nick, honey?

Gene said...

Nick: "hes a liar and a sexist pig"

If you really want to insult a Supreme Court justice (in contrast to just portraying your own ignorance) you might want to consider using proper grammar--"He's a liar . . . "


Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

By time he graduated HS he had 3 years of Latin, 2 years of German, 2 years of French, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. In the segregated south. What in the world has happened to the American education system?!
Public sector unionization.

Bruce Gee said...

His children atended the same Catholic school my sister works at in Virginia. She used to bring his son home with her and Clarence would pick him up at her house. She tells me there were times neighbors would gather and he would hold forth for half an hour in her dining room, dressed in jogging pants and a tee shirt. A warm, smart, genuine person, she tells me.