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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

The Most Straightforward Man in America



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Justice Clarence Thomas has given an interview to Business Week magazine, mostly about his time at the College of Holy Cross. Thomas is candid, bracing, totally honest—an open book with wholly admirable contents.

He talks a lot about affirmative action, and about his college days. But here is my favorite exchange from the interview:

Q: Isn’t this [i.e., the Supreme Court] where you want to be, where you can have the greatest impact?

A: 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.

I just have trouble imagining Justice Breyer or Justice Ginsburg saying anything like this—or Justice Kennedy for that matter. Along the way, they seem not to have learned that. But Thomas has nailed exactly how everyone on the Court should approach its work.

In earlier periods in our history, there was occasional talk of this or that Supreme Court justice running for president. The last time it actually happened was in 1916, when Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes got the Republican nomination to run against Woodrow Wilson. (Hughes returned to the Court years later as chief justice.)

I think we should start a “Draft Clarence Thomas” movement.


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