Justice Thomas continues speaking. You continue listening.

October 2nd, 2009

In addition to his interesting CSPAN interview, here are some more links to recent Thomas, J., sightings.

For the most reticent member on the bench, he sure loves chatting it up. H/T How Appealing.

Law.com has an account of his talk at SMU, and Thomas, J., further opines the value of oral arguments and why he abstains from asking questions.

In response to Olson’s questions about the value of oral arguments, Thomas said that sometimes they made a difference but rarely did they change votes, and never did they make a difference on a sustained basis. Olson asked if oral arguments should be dispatched with altogether. Thomas said no but that the other court members should let the advocates talk rather than peppering and interrupting them with questions. He said, “I have no idea what they are doing,” about his fellow justices who speak more often in oral arguments and speculated that other justices may be seeking “to get a chuckle out of the audience.”

I wonder which Justice(s) tries “to get a chuckle out of the audience.” Well I’ll give you a hint, according to the Supreme Court’s seating scheme based on seniority, Justice Thomas will be sitting right next to him come Oral Arguments! The SMU school newspaper has further reports.

Justice Thomas on precedent and liberty, and some great audio, after the jump.

At TCU, Justice Thomas gave some more insights about his experiences at the court.

“You realize that you work for something that is much larger than you are,” he said. “(It’s) something that is so depended on by your fellow citizens. It matters that you do this right, it matters that you show fidelity to (the Constitution). I guess I’ve already been a part of a time when we did say that and those were the exact same arguments for maintaining segregation. I don’t think time makes wrong right”

Thomas has repeated his views of a weak deference towards Stare Decisis with respect to Constitutional Law cases. Time does not make wrong right indeed. I have blogged about my views on stare decisis and constitutional law here.

Thomas closed be reaffirming the maxim. The Supreme Court is right because it is final. The Supreme Court is not final because it is right:

“(With rulings) that’s all – there’s nobody who can correct it if we get it wrong,”

And at William and Mary, Justice Thomas commented how difficult it is for judges to avoid pushing policy through the Courts, remarking that β€œ[s]elf discipline is not easy to maintain.’’ Based on the number of 8-1 opinions last term where Thomas stood alone, I am fairly certain that he is the most idealistic Judge, and clings most strongly to his core beliefs about the Constitution and the role of the Courts.

And in classic Thomas fashion,he concluded by asking the crowd of students and teachers β€œto rededicate themselves to the principles of liberty. Start by understanding [the Constitution]. It is critically important.”

Listen to the entire speech. It is well worth listening to.

Audio Justice Thomas’s Speech at Washington & Lee University