Justice Thomas visits Stetson University College of Law listen02/02/10 Mark Anderson
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas visited Stetson University’s College of Law in Gulfport this morning to deliver a speech to several hundred law students, faculty, and invited guests. He avoided direct comment on several controversial decisions, including last month’s decision liberalizing corporate donations to political campaigns.
Justice Thomas received an honorary degree, then presided over a folksy, interactive motivational dialogue with Stetson law students. The conservative Justice exuded an aura of humility, independence, and integrity. When asked for his reaction to comments and expressions made at the State of the Union Address, Thomas took a serious turn; he no longer attends the State of the Union Address.
One Student asked him about the recent 5 to 4 decision relaxing campaign contributions by corporations. His decision in the case was based on his view of corporate structure, that not all are huge multi nationals, many are small not for profit entities.
He broached racial issues numerous times, recounting his humble upbringing in pre civil rights Georgia, and how the rule of law enacted fundamental civil rights enabling his generation to achieve lofty position, such as his 19 years on the Court. His emphasis is on the importance of logic and independent thinking, not skin color.
The students in attendance were very positive about his message and the open forum used. The vast majority of questions were non confrontational. Jumba Magwanya is a second year law student.
Second year student Jay Wadhwari recognized the independent thinking needed on the bench.
Throughout the morning, Thomas reverted to humor, with many jokes and anecdotes about his upbringing, unexpected career turns, and even how he likes to spend his personal time.
After the session, he joined students and faculty in the Law Library, providing one on one access to the students. For more information on the Court, visit www.supremecourtus.gov
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