Bench Memos

At Ease

Earlier this week retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was honored at Virginia Military Institute with the Harry F. Byrd, Jr.* Public Service Medal.  They sure know how to put on a ceremonial occasion at VMI, with the snappy uniforms, the honor guard, the flags and salutes.  But see photo number 6 in this slide show at The Roanoke Times website for a candid response by the cadets to the speech given by Justice O’Connor.  Ouch.

My question is, when will it be Justice Clarence Thomas’s turn?  Thomas is alone among the justices in actually having a connection to VMI.  He recused himself from U.S. v. Virginia, the 1995 case that forced VMI to admit women, because his son was attending the Institute at the time.  And I’ll bet he’d give a speech that keeps the “Keydets” awake.

*(Note this is Byrd junior.  Harry F. Byrd, Sr. was a staunch defender of southern racial segregation.  His son and successor as U.S. senator was in VMI’s class of 1935, hence the medal.)