Highlights from Justice Thomas’s Commence Address at Hillsdale College

May 16th, 2016

Take 30 minutes and watch Justice Thomas’s commencement address at Hillsdale College. It is truly inspirational. I offer here a few excerpts I typed out, without commentary. These will be used for the final chapter of #Unraveled.

 This has been a most difficult term at the Court. This difficulty is underscored by the sudden and tragic passing of my colleague and friend, Justice Antonin Scalia. I think it is fitting to say a few a few words about him, particularly here. Many will focus on his intellect and legal prowess. I do not demure in either case, there is so much more to the man than that. When I think of Justice Scalia, I think of the good man whom I could instinctively trust during my first days on the court, and those were challenging days. He was in the tradition of the south my youth, a man of his word, a man of character. Over the almost 25 years that were together, I think we made the Court a better place for each other. I certainly know that he made it a better place for me. He was kind to me when it mattered most in those early days. He is and will be sorely missed.

Things that were once considered firm have long since lost their vitality, and much that seemed inconceivable is now firmly or universally established. Hallmarks of my youth such as patriotism and religion seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts.

Words actually matter, not a current newspeak. I admit to be unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic, and unapologetically a constitutionalist.

It is as thought freedom and liberty exist, wholly independent of anything we do.

This era is one in which any difference or different treatment is inherently suspect. Apparently we all deserve the same rewards, the same status, notwithstanding the differences in our abilities. It is no wonder that we hear so often what is deserved or to what one is entitled.

It is not often that one hears of our obligations or our duties as citizens, unless of course there’s talk about duty to submit to yet another new policy being suggested or proposed.

If we continue to consume the benefits of a free society, without replenishing or nourishing it, we will eventually deplete it. If we are not making deposits to replenish our liberties, then who is? Re we content to let others do the work, to let a few give the last full measure for liberty while we consume the benefits? If so, perhaps one day, we will run out of other people’s sacrifice and courage, and perhaps we will run out of courageous people willing to make the sacrifice.

This is Hillsdale College, and you are special. Hillsdale is a trustee of the heritage that finds a clear expression in the American experiment of self-government under law. The very existence of Hillsdale connotes independence. It understands that liberty is an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government.

There were the Irish nuns who believed in us and lived in our neighborhood. Small lessons such as these became big lessons for how to live our lives.

Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket especially in this world that seems to have gone made with political correctness.

Hillsdale College, a school that has stood fast on its principles and its traditions at great sacrifice and great cost.