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Thomas's 2006 speech in South Dakota

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The Honorable Clarence Thomas, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, accepted an invitation to hold a series of private seminars with selected University of South Dakota students on topics of civic education and jurisprudence during a visit to the campus on Sept. 21.
The student-only sessions with the justice featured approximately 100 students who spent approximately 90 minutes in small group sessions discussing the tenets of good government, public service and democracy.

Sean Flynn from Mitchell, S. D., a junior economics and political science major, was one of the student participants. After the day’s activities, Flynn commented “I was very impressed with Justice Thomas. His remarks were candid and insightful, and it was great to be given the opportunity to meet with him.”

Students who attended the sessions were nominated by faculty members from various academic programs, including political science, law, business and the honors program.

For the past few years, Justice Thomas has met with The U’s political science and criminal justice majors visiting Washington, D.C. on the annual Department of Political Science spring break trip to the capital.  Justice Thomas’s visit to the University reflects his continued association with The U.

According to Mary Pat Bierle, an instructor in The U’s Department of Political Science and faculty sponsor of the student trips, the justice is well-known for his willingness to meet with students.

“During our Washington visits, our students truly impressed Justice Thomas, which may help explain his willingness to visit with a larger group of our students here in Vermillion,” said Bierle.

Tom Cota, a junior political science and business major from Sioux Falls, S.D., not only participated in the day’s activities but also met Justice Thomas during one of the political science study trips to Washington. “Yesterday’s event was truly amazing. To have the opportunity to meet with a sitting Supreme Court Justice twice is a true honor and great educational experience.  The opportunities that this University, more specifically the political science department, has awarded me are some that I will remember for the rest of my life.  Justice and Mrs. Thomas were extremely gracious with their time, and really had a sincere interest in the student's lives and future plans.  I thank them and the department for this opportunity,” said Cota.

Thomas's Clerks

Culling the Reputable, Reliable, Right-Leaning
For 'Family' of Clerks, Thomas Weighs Politics, Loyalty and, Sometimes, Hard-Luck History

By Michael A. Fletcher and Kevin Merida
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 11, 2004; Page A11

Clarence Thomas was speaking to students at Ashland University, an hour south of Cleveland, when he was hit by a question that often follows him: How much of your own work do you do?

The student questioner went on to observe that law clerks are said to have a lot of power. "I think the law clerks are in charge of everything," Thomas retorted. "In fact, I got an allowance from them before I came here."

He went on to offer a serious discussion about his relationship with his clerks.

"Mine are like family," he said, adding, "You rarely see other members of the court, but you see your law clerks every day."

He starts each term in October surrounded by four law clerks who stay with him until the court adjourns. Explaining that law clerks have to "hit the ground running," Thomas, like all justices, usually selects from the pool of applicants who have clerked at the federal appellate level.

Thomas's clerks are culled from the top ranks of law school graduates and are typically conservative. Most justices tend to hire like-minded clerks, though Antonin Scalia is known for bringing in an ideological opposite to sharpen the discussions in his chambers.

"I'm not going to hire clerks who have profound disagreements with me," Thomas said several years ago during an appearance in Dallas. "That is a waste of my time. Someone said that is like trying to train a pig. It's a waste of your time, and it aggravates the pig."

Trustworthiness also is high on Thomas's list. He once told students that you can't have clerks "who are plain ol' dishonest, who are keeping notes, who plan to leak things, who are talking to people about it. I don't talk to my wife about these things, and she's my best friend."

Thomas relies heavily for clerk recommendations on friends and ideological soul mates among appeals court judges. Twenty-three of the 56 law clerks Thomas has hired at the Supreme Court previously clerked for one of two federal appeals court judges, Laurence H. Silberman and J. Michael Luttig, both highly respected conservatives who stood by Thomas during his confirmation.

Luttig said in an interview that his own judicial philosophy likely "has some relevance" to Thomas's selection of many of his clerks. More crucial, he said, are the track records of his clerks who previously worked at the high court and his friendship with Thomas, which allows for easy, candid assessment of candidates.

"I would like to think when a clerk comes from me to him, there is a dependability and a reliability factor," Luttig said. "There is a personality screen and a legal talent screen that is comforting."

Thomas also is partial to clerks who have overcome personal adversity. Steven Bradbury, who clerked for Thomas during the 1992-93 term, suffered the death of his father before he was a year old. Raised by his mother in Portland, Ore., he was the first in his family to go to college.

"That was a story that really resonated with the justice," said Bradbury, now a Justice Department lawyer. Bradbury's mother, a lifelong Democrat, met Thomas while visiting her son during his clerkship. Bradbury worried that his mother would be wary of his boss.

As it turned out, he should not have been concerned. Upon meeting Thomas, his mother immediately threw her arms around him. And after they chatted, "she just had this empathy for him," Bradbury said.

Their connection made an impression on Thomas, who told other clerks that he wanted to write court opinions that "Steve's mother" could understand.

Thomas, with his penchant for conversation and personal connection, forges closer bonds with his clerks than most justices, according to former clerks and other court employees. Thomas's clerks, in turn, are loyal to him.

In interviews, 12 former Thomas clerks explained how they operate. They each take a portion of the 80 or so cases that come before the court every term. They then develop detailed memos on each case, drawing on the facts in the briefs filed. Thomas and his clerks discuss the memos as oral arguments approach.

The lead clerk on a case initiates the discussion, which opens up to a broader debate among the clerks. The discussions can last for hours and sometimes get heated. Thomas interjects, but he often allows his clerks to duke it out.

"The purpose of the exercise is to bat around ideas -- the more the merrier," said Chris Landau, who clerked for Thomas during the 1991-92 term and is now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

From that discussion, Thomas develops a tentative position. The lead clerk then writes another memo for Thomas to take to oral arguments, along with a few questions -- which he almost never asks.

Shortly after oral arguments, the nine justices meet alone in their oak-paneled conference room to decide the cases. Sitting in assigned seats around a long, rectangular table, they present their views in descending order of seniority. After a tentative vote, the senior justice in the majority makes the assignment for writing opinions.

"If you're drafting on behalf of the conference, you try to capture the consensus of the conference," Thomas said several years ago during a question-and-answer session with students at Ashland. "You're writing on behalf of the court, not just yourself."

When Thomas is assigned an opinion or when he writes a dissent or a concurrence, a clerk often produces the first draft, which Thomas then edits. Often, he works from home, as do other justices. Thomas has a kneeler in his home office, and before writing opinions, he sometimes opens a prayer book, kneels and prays, according to a family friend.

"I don't want to think that someone who judges something important about me or my country is having fun doing it," Thomas once said. "I think to the extent to which you get any degree of satisfaction is knowing that you've lived up to your oath as best you could. The rest of the time, it's almost as though you go home and try to survive the experience of judging."

Thomas Might be Next Chief Justice

Justice could be moving up

Next chief of the Supreme Court might be Thomas, biographer says

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Clarence Thomas has been interviewed by White House lawyers as a possible choice to be the next chief justice of the United States, says the author of a new biography.

Thomas says he isn't interested but could find it hard to turn down an opportunity to be the first black man to lead the Supreme Court, said biographer Ken Foskett.

Judging Thomas, out this week from William Morrow, traces Thomas' life from rough beginnings in rural Georgia, through Yale Law School to his life today.

Thomas initially refused Foskett's request for interviews, but later spoke to the author both on and off the record.

Thomas likes NASCAR and football, plays a fierce game of basketball and during the court's summer recess tours the nation in a 40-foot mobile home decorated with orange flames, Foskett wrote.

Thomas is friendly and outgoing in person, though he almost never says a word during the court's oral arguments, Foskett said.

"I think people would be surprised to know that Thomas knows everyone in the building by first name," Foskett said.

Thomas is the youngest of the justices at 56 and could remain on the court for decades.

Whether he is elevated to chief justice "all depends on Bush being re-elected," Foskett said.

Thomas' promotion to the court's top job would also depend on the exit of his boss, 79-year-old Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Rehnquist is not expected to retire before the November presidential election, but might do so in a second Bush term. The White House has a short list of candidates for any Supreme Court vacancy, and presumably has interviewed several potential nominees to succeed Rehnquist.

Zephyrhills greets another celebrity: Clarence Thomas

By MOLLY MOORHEAD, Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg Times
published May 7, 2003

ZEPHYRHILLS - Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, of all places, is the local hot spot lately for celebrity sightings.

A week after former President George Bush came to town for a speaking engagement at Saddlebrook Resort, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas flew in and was whisked away in a limousine.

Ann Wightman, an administrative assistant at the airport, said the plane landed about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday afternoon carrying Thomas and two other people. The plane, a Gulfstream 4 bearing a large Miami Dolphins logo on the tail, arrived from Fort Lauderdale, where Thomas had done a question-and-answer session in the morning at Nova Southeastern University. The event was part of a lecture series at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, named for the Dolphins owner.

Randy Pohlman, the school's dean, said Thomas spoke about his own background and views, court procedures and how cases are handled.

Thomas' arrival in Zephyrhills brought none of the fanfare of the former president's visit, which involved scores of police and sheriff's deputies and a motorcade.

"It was quite uneventful," Wightman said.

No details were available late Tuesday about what Thomas was doing in the Tampa Bay area. A spokesman for the Supreme Court said the justices' schedules are not routinely released.

Wightman said the U.S. Marshal's office called the airport last week to notify them of Thomas' visit but didn't say why he was coming to town.

But Wightman did note that Thomas' mode of transport was a cut above the former president's. She described the Gulfstream 4 as "a big, pretty airplane.

"It was actually bigger than Bush's," she said.

Justice Thomas Seems More At Ease

Mammoth book deal worth more than $1 million

Friday, April 18, 2003 Posted: 3:38 PM EDT (1938 GMT)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- For many people, Clarence Thomas will forever be the angry man behind the Senate witness table during the raucous, caustic hearings to confirm him as a Supreme Court justice.

After the 1991 hearings, the court's only black justice seemed to retreat into the closed world of the court. Even now, he rarely speaks during oral arguments and makes fewer public appearances than many of his colleagues.

However, there are signs that things may be changing. After 12 years, Thomas seems more at ease on the court and more willing to engage the public and his critics, according to lawyers and law professors who have been watching.

"It wouldn't be surprising to see Thomas coming into his own," said New York University law professor Barry Friedman.

"It's a daunting job, and he came onto the court under difficult circumstances. It might only have been a question of time, and it's been awhile, for him to start playing a bigger role."

Thomas remains a divisive figure, especially among blacks. He is at once perhaps the best-known high-ranking black person in government and a longtime critic of civil rights legislation. He opposes affirmative action.

Admirers and detractors alike were somewhat startled to learn earlier this year that Thomas had signed a mammoth book deal worth more than $1 million. He reportedly plans to promote his memoirs with his first extensive media interviews since joining the court.

The book, due in 2005, will cover Thomas' rise from rural poverty in segregated Georgia and his confirmation to the court. Thomas knows he must write about the lurid accusations of sexual harassment from a young former subordinate, Anita Hill, that dominated the hearings, lawyers say.

He also must know that he will be asked pointed questions about the episode, something he has largely avoided by avoiding the press and by carefully picking his audiences for speeches and other appearances.

"I hope it is not a payback kind of book, getting his own digs in," said John Greenya, who wrote an unauthorized 2001 biography of Thomas. "I just wish he'd say, 'This is what I believe, like it or lump it,' instead of, 'This was a high-tech lynching and I'm still mad about it."'

Thomas gets a bum rap as a man haunted by his bitter experience, said Scott Gerber, a law professor at Ohio Northern University and author of a 1999 book on Thomas.

"He's always been more than that. He's been doing hard work on the court, and has since Day 1," Gerber said.

It's too easy to dismiss Thomas' customary silence during oral arguments as an indication that he has nothing to contribute, Gerber and other lawyers said.

Twice in recent months Thomas has electrified the courtroom by evoking the history of racial segregation during cases about cross burning and affirmative action.

Two racially charged issues

Thomas typically asks only two or three questions each court term, and some lawyers see it as significant that he chose to speak on two racially charged issues. Doing so automatically put his own race on display, something Thomas has shied away from in the past.

More ideologically conservative than all but one of his eight colleagues, Thomas' influence on the court has been muted by the fact that he is often unwilling to moderate his views or unable to persuade other justices to adopt his reasoning.

That he is resolute, even if writing solo, makes Thomas a hero to many conservatives. Former solicitor general and independent counsel Kenneth Starr recently called Thomas "the Rehnquist court's most original thinker."

Thomas' independence has meant that he is not often assigned to write the majority opinion in major, narrowly decided cases. As a relatively junior justice, he is also less likely to draw plum writing assignments even when he fully agrees with the majority.

He did, however, write the majority opinion in one of last year's biggest cases, a 5-4 ruling allowing random drug testing for high school students involved in after-school activities. Some lawyers expect Thomas to write for the majority in an upcoming case that could give police more muscle to question suspects without the familiar Miranda warnings.

Known as gregarious and a little prankish in private, Thomas has let a bit of that side show in recent court appearances.

Announcing the court's verdict in a complex case about rules for some death row appeals last month, Thomas cracked up the courtroom with a dry observation about the case's tortuous history. The next day, a smirking Thomas dug his elbow into Justice Stephen Breyer's ribs when Breyer asked for "a straight answer" during a case about gay sex.

Supreme Court Article

It was probably a joke only a lawyer could love, but Thomas drew a hearty laugh with an aside from the bench Monday about two federal laws the high court has confronted repeatedly.

Announcing the court's ruling in a complicated case about rules for certain kinds of appeals in death penalty cases, Thomas waded into a thicket of acronyms and obscure legal terms.

"I'm sure you got all that," he said at last, to laughter from the courtroom. "One of my colleagues thinks this case is about how AEDPA violates ERISA," Thomas continued, referring to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. That broke up the room.

"I'm not going to say which colleague, but he sits on my left."

Justice Stephen Breyer, on Thomas' left, grinned and giggled. The two justices, who have opposite ideologies, are frequently seen whispering and laughing during the court's oral arguments.

Clarence Thomas Sells Memoirs

HarperCollins Agrees to Pay Justice Seven-Figure Advance
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 9, 2003; Page C01

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has agreed to sell his memoirs to a New York-based publisher for a seven-figure advance, according to publishing industry sources.

The deal between the 54-year-old justice and HarperCollins, which is owned by conservative media baron Rupert Murdoch, appears to be the most lucrative ever for a sitting member of the modern Supreme Court.

Patty Kelly, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins, said Thomas's book would "trace his life from his upbringing through his confirmation to the court" in 1991 -- including the battle over sexual harassment charges by a former aide, Anita Hill, about which she and others have already written books.

Kelly declined to discuss dollar figures, but industry sources said that HarperCollins made a million-dollar offer to outbid several other companies. The book is due to go on sale in the fall of 2005.

After a standard 15 percent fee for his literary agent, Lynn Chu, Thomas stands to receive an amount from HarperCollins that is at least 4 1/2 times his annual $184,400 salary. Thomas declined to comment.

The deal is permitted by federal ethics laws. There is a $23,000 annual limit on the income a member of the federal judiciary may earn from such outside activities as teaching. But earnings from books are exempt from the cap.

The American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which is not legally binding but is widely adhered to by judges, does not specifically mention earnings from books, but does say that "a judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that . . . may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge's judicial position or . . . involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with . . . persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves."

Thomas may thus face decisions about recusing himself from cases potentially affecting HarperCollins or Murdoch's broader holdings, legal analysts said.

Another issue could be the amount of promotion Thomas is called upon to do for the book. The greater the advance paid, the more publishers expect an author to help sell the book through television interviews and public appearances. A book needs to sell about 250,000 hardcover copies to recover a $1 million advance, publishing industry executives said.

"There is a fuzzy line of unseemliness," said New York University law school Vice Dean Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert who said he generally saw no problem with Thomas's deal. "Here, an active self-promotion campaign could trip over the . . . line. Judges are not supposed to be in the public eye too much. It's a question of judgment and proportion, taste even."

A publishing executive familiar with the negotiations said Thomas, who generally shuns the media, told interested publishers that he was "very, very concerned that he uphold the dignity of the court" in promoting the book.

* * *

He is the least wealthy of the nine justices, with holdings of between $150,000 and $410,000, according to his most recent financial disclosure form. The value of his home in Northern Virginia is not required to be disclosed.

Thomas and his wife, Virginia, do not have children but recently became the legal guardians of Thomas's school-age grandnephew. Thomas's son from a previous marriage graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.

At a 2001 congressional hearing, Thomas spoke sympathetically of a Rehnquist proposal, since abandoned because of congressional opposition, that would have permitted members of the federal bench to earn more from teaching and other outside activities. Thomas has discussed his book project with colleagues on the court, who have generally been supportive, a source close to the justice said.

The agreement with HarperCollins culminates a protracted auction among major publishers orchestrated by Chu, a New York-based agent who together with her husband and business partner, Glen Hartley, enjoys a reputation as a tough bargainer.

"Thomas hired an agent whose mission is to get as much money as possible," said Edward Lazarus, a former Chu client who published a 1998 book based in part on his time as a Supreme Court law clerk. "Her mantra is 'Make the free-market system work for you.' "

Thomas also hired Chu in part because of her past work for like-minded authors, those close to the justice said. "She is a lot of conservative people's agent," said Thomas friend Barbara Ledeen. "She is one of the few who won't close the door on you."

Chu represented author David Brock for his book "The Real Anita Hill," which sharply criticized the justice's 1991 accuser. Brock has since recanted that criticism.

Chu presented editors at the major publishing firms with a 125-page manuscript Thomas drafted over the last year. Thomas later met with those who showed serious interest, spending over two hours with at least one prospective publisher. The project received a mixed reception -- with reactions tracking the polarized reception the justice evokes from the public generally.

Those publishers who bid on the book, which includes an emotional, detailed account of Thomas's early years on the streets of segregated Savannah, saw it as a readable personal saga that would appeal to conservatives and African Americans, two of the strongest segments of the book-buying public.

"We liked the material he'd written himself. We had a good meeting with the justice in Washington. I think it's a potentially important book and it definitely has commercial potential," said William Shinker, senior vice president and publisher of Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Putnam, which tried and failed to win the auction.

"What he really wants to do is tell his own story, and this is going to be his vehicle for doing it," said Alfred S. Regnery, president and publisher of the conservative-oriented Regnery Publishing, another losing bidder. "It's going to be a good book."

But others found Thomas's writing inadequate and questioned whether the book could sell well enough to justify the advance Chu sought. Also, in a business dominated by liberal-leaning New Yorkers, some editors recoiled at working with Thomas.

"At least one house I talked with told me they wanted nothing to do with him," said Michael Cader, editor of the online newsletter Publishers Lunch.

"The word I was given was that it wasn't a free-flowing book, it had some difficulties -- and it was him," said one executive from a publisher that passed on the book. "To pay a million dollars, you have to believe you can sell 250,000 hardcover, and that's a lot. You've really got to believe you've got a person and a story and a whole publicity track."

As it happens, Thomas's advance is on a par with the $1 million publishers paid Hill to write her autobiography and one other book.

Thomas to Speak at University of Georgia

Thomas to Speak at Ga. Law School Event

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Friday, December 20, 2002; 12:53 AM

ATHENS, Ga. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will deliver the graduation speech at the University of Georgia's law school in May a decision that has stirred debate among professors and students.

A three-student committee selected Thomas a native of Pinpoint, a small town near Savannah after informal discussions among themselves and their classmates, said 2003 class president Josh Belinfante. The group received an acceptance from Thomas in November.

"I think it's great for the law school and the state any time we can get a Supreme Court justice to come speak," Belinfante said. "We are aware that it might cause some controversy, but Clarence Thomas is a Supreme Court justice from Georgia and we thought he would be an appropriate person to come speak."

Several civil rights groups, including the NAACP, opposed Thomas' nomination to the Supreme Court because of his conservative position on affirmative action.

Georgia law professor Eugene Wilkes said he and others likely will boycott the speech.

"To say that various law faculty members are appalled and horrified, I think would be a correct assessment," Wilkes said.

Gullah Culture in Danger of Fading Away

ST. HELENA ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINATime has stood still for more than a century on this rural island off the Atlantic Ocean. Dirt roads lead to houses where Gullah families live in clusters the way their ancestors did in Africa. Women wearing head wraps and aprons weave baskets from sea grass and sell them to tourists on their way to the affluent outlying islands.

* * *

The Gullahs who live on the island are descendants of West African slaves who worked the rice and cotton fields before they were freed and offered a chance to purchase their land. As whites deserted the coast in favor of milder climates inland, the Gullahs lived in isolation for generations, allowing them to maintain their African culture longer than any slave descendants in America.

But more than 300 years after their arrival, some fear the Gullahs' grip on the past as well as their land is slipping. As older generations die, coastal development moves in and young people leave to find work, the people who once thrived along the coast from northern Florida to North Carolina are struggling to hold on to the ancient customs that defined their culture and remained intact almost a century after the emancipation.

"These are proud people who have always had a strong sense of history and tradition particularly on St. Helena, which was a point of entry for slaves," said Veronica Gerald, a historian on the island. "There was a time we owned all of this land. We helped to build this coastal area and we are fighting very hard to keep St. Helena as true to its natural state as possible. We see what happened to Hilton Head, and we don't want it here."

Theirs is a familiar story of assimilation as told by American Indians, Cajuns in Louisiana and highlanders in Appalachia. No longer able to live in isolation, groups with roots in old America are sucked into the mainstream, where local traditions are forfeited in favor of popular culture.

Saving the Gullahs From Extinction

The National Park Service soon will complete a three-year study to determine what role the government might play in saving the Gullahs from extinction. But it is almost impossible, federal officials concede, to protect them from encroachment. Some land could be set aside as a national park, and crafts and linguistics could be documented in books and exhibits.

No one knows exactly how many Gullah people remain. Estimates range from 200,000 to 500,000. The recent resurgence of interest, activists said, could help connect Gullah communities in all parts of the country, including Texas and Oklahoma, where they mixed with the local Indian population.

The unique language, a melodic blend of 17th and 18th century English and African dialects, is rarely spoken among the Gullahs, or Geechees, as they are called outside South Carolina. Since the 1950s, their farms, their fishing holes and the sea grass fields that fueled their artistry have fallen victim to bulldozers. Other traces of the culture, such as cooking, medicines, storytelling and even magical hoodoo, are increasingly harder to find.

* * *

Events, such as the 15-year-old Gullah Festival held in Beaufort last month, will help to spread word of the plight and keep customs alive, said Washington, whose family still owns land on an adjacent island. And Gullah-Geechees who have moved away, such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, are stepping up. Thomas, who grew up on the Georgia coast, has said he would like to write a book about the culture.

State's high court honors Thomas at convention
Ken Foskett - Staff
Sunday, June 16, 2002

Amelia Island, Fla. --- The Georgia Supreme Court awarded U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with its highest honor Saturday.

Thomas, only the fifth Georgian to ever serve on the nation's high court, was presented with the court's Amicus Curiae award, recognizing his service to the law and strong ties to his native Georgia.

"We give it to those who have labored long on the bench and the bar," said Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher.

Thomas, a native of Savannah, came here to attend the annual meeting of the State Bar of Georgia at the invitation of outgoing bar President James B. Franklin, a friend. Arriving midway through the three-day convention, Thomas kept a low profile for the most part.

"He said he really just wanted to get to know some of the lawyers here in Georgia," Franklin said.

Thomas had a two-hour breakfast with justices of the state Supreme Court on Saturday and attended a reception in their honor Saturday evening. Thomas was the keynote speaker of the convention's Saturday night dinner.

In his breakfast with state court justices, Thomas made no secret of his desire to ultimately oversee the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals headquartered in Atlanta, Fletcher said.

Under U.S. Supreme Court procedures, each of the nine justices has oversight of one or more of the nation's 13 circuit courts. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has more seniority than Thomas, currently has responsibility for the 11th Circuit. Thomas has charge of the 8th Circuit, covering Missouri and part of the Midwest.

"He still very strongly considers Georgia home," Fletcher said.

* * *

Thomas told Georgia justices over breakfast that he hoped to travel more to regions of the country where no justices have traveled before and talk to ordinary Americans about the workings of the court, Fletcher said.

Fletcher said Thomas was intrigued with the Georgia court's practice of holding court in other parts of the state, away from the court's chamber in Atlanta.

"He said he was anxious to have more of a dialogue with folks in places where justices have never been before," Fletcher said.

From Tony Mauro's Column


Friendship leaves its footprint in unusual places. Case in point: the friendship of Justice Clarence Thomas and Dallas real estate magnate Harlan Crow.

The financial disclosure forms filed by Thomas last month -- reporting income, assets, and significant gifts received in the previous year -- listed a gift of a "Frederick Douglass Bible," valued at $19,000, from Harlan and Kathy Crow, described as "personal friends."

Crow is chairman and chief executive of Crow Holdings, which directs the investments of the Trammell Crow family -- Trammell is his father -- and manages its portfolio of real estate and businesses valued at more than $300 million. Crow is a faithful donor to Republican candidates and causes, ranging from President George W. Bush to former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

On his 1998 disclosure form, Thomas reported that Crow gave him a free plane ride to and from the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California club.

In 2001, Crow made his friendship clear in another way. He was identified last September as the previously anonymous donor of $175,000 in seed money for the renovation of a library in Savannah, Ga., that Thomas visited frequently as a child. The historically black Carnegie Library had fallen into disrepair, and Thomas wanted to see it renovated. When Crow learned of the situation, he offered the six-figure sum.

The library donation caused a dust-up because Crow had requested that a new wing built as part of the renovation be named for Thomas. Local civil rights leaders protested, arguing that Thomas should not receive the honor because of his judicial record in civil rights cases.

The board ultimately accepted the donation over the vocal objections of civil rights leaders. Groundbreaking for the new wing will be in the fall.

At the time of the Savannah controversy, in a brief telephone interview, Crow acknowledged his friendship with Thomas but said, "I really don't want to talk about it."

Apparently, the two met years ago when Thomas gave a speech in Dallas. Crow sits on the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that boasts scholars, including onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. Coincidentally, Thomas also reports in this year's financial disclosure form a gift from AEI, an Abraham Lincoln bust valued at $15,000.

Crow did not return phone calls seeking more information on the Douglass Bible. But the gift is in keeping with Thomas' longstanding affinity for Douglass, the 19th century black escaped slave, abolitionist and author. A portrait of Douglass hangs in the justice's office behind his desk chair.

Douglass scholars were not immediately familiar with the Douglass Bible given to Thomas. John McKivigan, editor of the Douglass papers and history professor at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, says Douglass was "a religious man, though not a church-going individual. He quoted the Bible frequently, so there was probably a well-thumbed Bible that belonged to him."

But McKivigan thinks the gift to Thomas is more likely to be a Bible that was presented to Douglass by one of the many institutions that were helped by Douglass' fund-raising efforts.

So would Douglass be happy that the conservative Thomas is such a fan? "Douglass was a loyal Republican," says McKivigan. "He felt that, for blacks, the Republican Party was the ship and everything else was the sea.

There were no other alternatives for blacks in his view."

McKivigan was surprised at the stated value of the Douglass Bible. "If that's the value of the Bible, then there are a few things that I'm heading to eBay with," McKivigan joked.

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HEADLINE: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Speak at Holy
Cross on 'Judging and the Court'

WORCESTER, Mass., March 7 [AScribe Newswire] -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will deliver the annual Hanify-Howland Memorial lecture at Holy Cross on Monday, April 8, 2002 at 8:00 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Hogan Campus Center. Justice Thomas' talk, titled "Judging and the Court," is free and open to the public. * * *
The annual Hanify-Howland lecture honors the late Edward F. Hanify, a 1904 graduate of Holy Cross and a Massachusetts Superior Court justice for 15 years, who died in 1954. The series was started by Hanify's friend, the late Weston Howland of Milton, Mass., a board chairman of Warwick Mills, Inc., who died in 1976. 

Black profs to boycott Thomas visit


U.S. Supreme Court


By ERIC FERRERI : The Herald-Sun
Mar 4, 2002 : 7:31 pm ET

CHAPEL HILL -- A coming visit to UNC this week by Clarence Thomas has rankled the black members of the universitys law school faculty, none of whom plan to attend any of the days events featuring the conservative associate justice of the nations highest court.

Thomas, a black jurist who has served on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1991, will spend Wednesday at the law school for a day of private meetings with law students and faculty members. He also is scheduled to give an invitation-only speech that afternoon.

In a letter circulated widely at the law school, the five faculty members objected to Thomas visit in part due to his ideology and in part due to statements attributed to the law schools dean, Gene Nichol, early last month in The Chapel Hill Herald.

* * *

To this, the faculty group wrote in part: "We will not participate in any institutional gesture that honors and endorses what Justice Thomas does. We cannot delight in such a day."

The five full-time faculty members who signed the letter were Charles E. Daye, Marilyn V. Yarbrough, John O. Calmore, Adrienne D. Davis and Kevin V. Haynes.

Reached Monday, Daye declined further comment, saying the group wished its written comments to stand on their own.

In its letter, the group said Thomas "not only engages in acts that harm other African Americans like himself, but also gives aid, comfort and racial legitimacy to acts and doctrines of others that harm African Americans unlike himself -- that is, those who have not yet reaped the benefits of civil rights laws, including affirmative action, and who have not yet received the benefits of the white-conservative sponsorships that now empower him."

Thomas imminent arrival also has irked minority law student organizations, several of which are teaming up to conduct an academic examination of Thomas background. That event, a teach-in, will be held at the law school today.

Some minority students were reluctant to speak publicly about the matter this week. But several said they were bothered by what they saw as a trend toward conservatism at the law school.

"The school just had Scalia come, OConnor come, and now Thomas. It makes it look like theres no dissenting body or anyone that holds a different viewpoint," said one minority student, who asked not to be identified. "It puts a stamp on Carolina as if these are the politics we hold."

Students also were peeved that Nichol, the law school dean, enlisted the states senior U.S. senator, the conservative Jesse Helms, to bring Thomas to campus.

But Nichol, himself a staunch liberal, said Thomas appearance on campus simply is a good academic exercise and a rare opportunity for law students to meet a member of the countrys highest court. The law school has hosted speakers who fall on the other end of the political spectrum as well, most recently U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Democrat from Minnesota.

"Law schools work pretty hard to get Supreme Court justices to visit," Nichol said Monday. "We invite a lot of people here to speak, some of whom I agree with and some of whom I dont. Thats what a law school ought to do."

Nichol said he expected Thomas appearance to raise the ire of some.

"I think its a thoughtful letter," he said of the statement by the faculty group. "It didnt come as a complete surprise to me. People here have strong opinions pro and con on Justice Thomas."

Justice's Drake visit draws protest

DES MOINES (AP) - Protesters at Drake University have not forgotten the controversy over Anita Hill or the 2000 presidential election.

A dozen of them carried signs Tuesday outside the Drake law school, where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was teaching a class on constitutional theory. They said they wanted Thomas to know they disagree with some of the decisions he has made.

"We thought that a presence was necessary," said Sally Frank, a Drake law professor leading the event. "If I lived in D.C., I would be protesting Clarence Thomas in D.C.

"I don't necessarily have a problem with them showing up," Frank said of the Supreme Court justices. "I'm not protesting the school's invitation."

When asked whether she thought the issues she was protesting were outdated, Frank responded, "The guy who may or may not have won the election is still in the White House, isn't he?"

Many students in the area criticized the protest, calling it embarrassing. Peter Goplerud, dean of the law school, declined to comment on the protest. He said Thomas' class runs only this week.

Tim Coonan, who was passing by the students, said they really should hold a debate with Thomas, rather than stand outside the law school, chanting.

"I think that would be more in the tradition of an academic setting, and I think that's more scholarly," said Coonan, a third-year law student. "Drake is lucky to have any Supreme Court justice to come here and offer his time to teach. And this is just misplaced and misguided and sad."

Michele Wegmann, a junior in women's studies at the private school, was not persuaded by Coonan's advice. She said she disagrees with how Anita Hill's harassment complaint was handled before Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court. She also doesn't like Thomas' efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a landmark case that affirmed women's right to abortion.

"Before he was appointed, he claimed that he had no opinion on women's rights," Wegmann said as she held a sign reading, "I believe Anita Hill."

"But all of his opinions, his statements have been that he believes abortion is wrong," she said.

Drake law students stood on an outdoor balcony at the law building, yelling at the protesters and asking them why they supported Anita Hill.

"Because she's a woman and she stood up for her rights when a man sexually harassed her," Wegmann yelled back.

Library Journal, November 15, 2001

What's Happening In Public Libraries

by Michael Rogers and Norman Oder

Protesters are still angry that the Chatham-Effingham Regional Library, Savannah, GA, accepted a $150,000 donation in exchange for naming a wing of the historically black Carnegie Library after Savannah native, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to the Savannah Morning News, critics want to force the library's foundation to open up its donor list, arguing that the donations help the public library and thus should be public. Such a move could scare away future benefactors who wish to remain anonymous. The Thomas donation was initially made anonymously; then Texas businessman Harlan Crow, a friend of Thomas's and a backer of conservative causes, revealed that he was the donor.

Be sure to let me know what you hear and I'll add it to this page!