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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Interviewed on 60 Minutes

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas granted an extraordinary interview to 60 Minutes which aired earlier tonight. You can watch the interview in its entirety on the CBS News Website using the links below.

60 Minutes: Clarence Thomas: The Justice Nobody Knows

The portrait that emerged is an interesting one. Justice Thomas has just published My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir that comes out tomorrow. The figure of his grandfather Myers Anderson looms large over Thomas, his life and even his jurisprudence. It’s difficult not to see in his description of his grandfather as hard though not a harsh man, who stood on principle in ways seen by others as severe, as a reflection of Thomas’ character that comes through in his decisions. He discussed the roots of his transformation from aspiring Catholic priest to radical democratic student to a conservative lawyer and Justice.

Having read many of his decisions on affirmative action it’s very interesting to hear him describe his personal experience at Yale Law School, where he felt others had a perception of him as having been admitted because of his race. He speculates that his difficulty finding a job following graduation was due to the perception of two degrees created by the affirmative action regime – one for white students who ‘earned it’ and another, lesser degree for minorities. “I have still a 15 cents sticker on the frame that my law degree is in,” Thomas says. “It’s tainted. So I just leave it in the basement.”

My continued fascination with Justice Thomas is piqued all the more. See my previous posts Not So Long Ago… Race in Law School, Clarence Thomas – Enigma or Man?, and Inscrutable.


Journalist Jan Crawford Greenburg discusses the perception of Justice Thomas in the media.
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6 Responses

  1. Meagan says:

    I caught the interview, too, and found it really fascinating. I especially liked what he had to say about his views on controversial topics, such as abortion. He might have just been espousing a moderate scripted line but the interview helped me see him as a much more rounded person and I certainly learned things I had not known before.

  2. lukegilman says:

    My opinion of Thomas has evolved quite a bit over the past year. That’s not to say I agree with him all that often, but I have a much greater sense of respect for him and his positions than I did when I started law school.

  3. lukegilman says:

    Via How Appealing, I notice Jan Crawford Greenburg has an eight-part series on her own interviews with Justice Thomas about his new book in Justice Clarence Thomas Speaks Out.

  4. lukegilman says:

    Kathryn Jean Lopez discusses the influence or Thomas Sowell’s Race and Economics on Justice Thomas’ thinking in Sowell of a Justice.

  5. Meagan says:

    Yes, I feel the same way. I used to dislike him on principal (sexual harrassment, conservative views and all that), but, perhaps as part of
    my own aging process, I now see him as a more well-rounded individual and can understand where he’s coming from. That said, I still disagree with his views most of the time but I respect his ability to stick to his guns on the issues he believes in.

  6. lukegilman says:

    I’ve come to enjoy the seemingly obligatory Thomas dissent at the end of ‘un-originalist’ decisions in which he trots out a history lesson to remind everyone that the founding fathers are spinning, spinning in their graves at these newfangled notions of the privileges or immunities clause or public use.

    Even more entertaining are the occasional Thomas concurrences in which he reminds everyone that he agrees with them, not because they’re right but because their grave-spinning logic unexpectedly and miraculously arrived at the originalist conclusion in spite of themselves.

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