Bench Memos

Justice Thomas on the Air

Justice Clarence Thomas is being interviewed by Laura Ingraham on her radio show as I write this.  I knew she had clerked for Justice Thomas.  I did not know that she was responsible for snapping his Achilles’ tendon on the basketball court, until she told the story this morning. 

I have met Justice Thomas just once, in the summer of 1993; he wouldn’t remember it, as I was just part of a group of young Turk college professors taken up to the Court by the Heritage Foundation to meet him.  I have a picture of our group with him, and poor Justice Thomas is sitting down, because one ankle is in one of those soft casts or braces–and the basketball story is what he told us (though I don’t recall him blaming a female clerk named Laura!).  What I remember is that he was still having trouble moving around without causing himself pain, yet he agreed to meet our inquisitive group and freely took our questions and talked about his work at the Court for at least an hour, then posed for the picture.  Until we posed for the photo, in fact, he wouldn’t even sit down, choosing instead to lean against a table at the front of the room while he spoke.  A gentleman willing to give of himself even at the cost of his comfort, when no one would have criticized him for waving us off.  That’s my personal memory of Clarence Thomas.


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