Justice Thomas Speaks at University of Alabama

From the Tuscaloosa News, H/T How Appealing,

Friday was the 18th anniversary of Thomas’ swearing in as a Supreme Court justice and his second visit to the UA Law School. He was nominated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush after serving for just a year on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“I argued against it, I’d been on the Court of Appeals long enough,” he said. “But when the president calls you, the words out of your mouth are ‘Yes, Mr. President.’”

“I found law school difficult. You see my old textbooks, and you’ll see that the textbooks won,” he said. “My journey was in many ways very unhappy and enormously difficult.”

“That, to me, is the shame of the process,” he said. “I think people should leave and know that they’ve said their piece.”

Thomas said that he preferred to hire law clerks from modest backgrounds.

“There are too many up there who think they should be there because they’re from an elite background,” he said. Students laughed when he described how former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in 2005, could get things done with a glare.

“He was more of a father figure of the World War II generation,” he said when asked how Rehnquist differs from Chief Justice John Roberts. “Chief Justice Roberts is a contemporary.”

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Justice Thomas continues speaking. You continue listening.

In addition to his interesting CSPAN interview, here are some more links to recent Thomas, J., sightings.

For the most reticent member on the bench, he sure loves chatting it up. H/T How Appealing.

Law.com has an account of his talk at SMU, and Thomas, J., further opines the value of oral arguments and why he abstains from asking questions.

In response to Olson’s questions about the value of oral arguments, Thomas said that sometimes they made a difference but rarely did they change votes, and never did they make a difference on a sustained basis. Olson asked if oral arguments should be dispatched with altogether. Thomas said no but that the other court members should let the advocates talk rather than peppering and interrupting them with questions. He said, “I have no idea what they are doing,” about his fellow justices who speak more often in oral arguments and speculated that other justices may be seeking “to get a chuckle out of the audience.”

I wonder which Justice(s) tries “to get a chuckle out of the audience.” Well I’ll give you a hint, according to the Supreme Court’s seating scheme based on seniority, Justice Thomas will be sitting right next to him come Oral Arguments! The SMU school newspaper has further reports.

Justice Thomas on precedent and liberty, and some great audio, after the jump.

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