March 9, 2007
LAW: Justice Thomas Speaks
Business Week has a rare interview with Justice Thomas, mainly about his Holy Cross days. H/T Stuart Buck. Thomas comes out swinging right away on why he doesn't talk to the press much (although, as I can attest, he can be warm and accomodating in meeting with visitors to the Court):
One of the reasons I don't do media interviews is, in the past, the media often has its own script. One reason these stories are never told is that they are contrary to the script that people play by. The media, unfortunately, have been universally untrustworthy because they have their own notions of what I should think or I should do.
Thomas on his job as a Justice:
Isn't this where you want to be, where you can have the greatest impact?
Nah. I don't think you should do these jobs with that in mind. I don't think you should relish affecting people's lives like that, because you don't know whether you have the right answers. Along the way, you learn that.
Thomas also speaks warmly of friends at HC, including Ted Wells (who's been in the news lately defending Scooter Libby, though Wells himself is no Republican). On Holy Cross compared to Yale:
You went to Yale later on. Would you have wanted to do your undergraduate degree there?
No. No, I belonged at a school like Holy Cross. In fact, in today's world, I probably belonged at a place like the University of Georgia. Holy Cross was perfect for me at that time. I had enough on my platter.
Do you feel a sense of fraternity with the people you went to school with?
In a distant way, I absolutely do. We don't pal around. I absolutely admire Ted Wells and he and I are quite different. He's one of the finest lawyers in the United States. But you know what? It's not unpredictable. It's something that could have been predicted. Think of the people who took chances on him.
There was a wonderful fraternity-The Cross. When you were a crusader, you looked after each other-no matter where you were. That doesn't mean they would always be in a position to do you a favor. But they were there, just as a friend. I've never been turned away by a graduate of The Cross.
How did you find your experience at Yale?
Let me put it this way: It wasn't the kind of environment Holy Cross was and I would not have done well there. I don't fit in there. It wasn't about them. I just didn't fit. I don't fit in an orchestra. I don't care how great the orchestra is. It's nothing against Yale. I'm extraordinarily pleased that through serendipity or, I like to think, almost divine providence, I wound up at Holy Cross.
(I should add, having been both at HC and Harvard, that I feel exactly the same way).
Read the whole thing, there's a lot more there, as well as a longer feature story on Justice Thomas' African-American classmates at HC.
Justice Thomas said, "I don't think you should relish affecting people's lives like that, because you don't know whether you have the right answers. Along the way, you learn that."
That's wonderful. We need more like him.
"(I should add, having been both at HC and Harvard, that I feel exactly the same way)."
If you ever had time, I'd love to read a longer explanation of this.