I had the great good fortune of attending the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention annual dinner featuring Justice Thomas last night. Justice Thomas was the attraction who drew a packed house of more than 1,300 justices, judges, attorneys and law students, and he just about brought down the house.
Responding to questions put to him by Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, Justice Thomas told a deeply American story. He ranged widely over his life and career, recalling his slave forebears, his grandparents, his teachers, his studies in college, seminary and law school, and his first job with Senator John Danforth. He recalled in detail the day he gave up the hate in his heart — April 16, 1970 — and spoke frequently of his loves. He spoke of his love for his wife, for his life on the Court, for his clerks, and above all, for the Constitution.
He moved the audience several times to laughter and, I think, by the end, to tears. David Lat captures the event in his Above the Law post “Justice Clarence Thomas speaks–and oh what a speech!” I left the event thinking, this is a man.