Bill Kristol sat down with Justice Clarence Thomas for the most recent of his Conversations. The video has just been posted in its entirety and broken into two roughly 30-minute chapters here. The transcript has also been posted here. I have embedded the video of the conversation in its entirety below.
At the end of term, I go to Gettysburg, and I take my law clerks there. We were there one time at Little Round Top – I kind of like all these things. So this guy runs up to me – he’s breathless. He’s like – he’s in great shape, you know, but he’s breathless – he said, “Look, I want you to sign this,” and he had this opinion of mine on a sort of fake parchment paper[. H]e’d printed it out. He said – I looked at it, and it was like a Federal Maritime Commission opinion I had written. He said, “I read this. Thank you. I’m not a lawyer, but I understand. And thank you for writing it in a way that I understand it.”
It’s sort of – like I enfranchised him or something. But at any rate, he hands me this thing, and I said, “Why are you reading the Federal Maritime Commission opinion?” He said, “That’s what this is all about,” speaking of Gettysburg. I had no idea. I thought it was just a Federal Maritime Commission. Think about it, when you write – I also think opinions have to accessible. They have to be like the ramps on a street or something like that, they have to be accessible to our fellow citizens.
It’s their Constitution. This guy, that was probably one of the great moments for me. So here is a guy, who’s not a lawyer, not a scholar or anything – he’s just a citizen who believes in his country and wants to follow what’s happening to his country and his Constitution, and the opinion is accessible to him. He didn’t say he agreed with me, by the way, but he said he understood. He felt as though he was a part of whatever process it was that was going on at the Supreme Court.
NOTE: I posted the video of Justice Thomas’s conversation with Judge Diane Sykes at the 2013 Federalist Society Lawyers Convention here. I wrote about that conversation briefly here, concluding: ” I left the event thinking, this is a man.” The same applies to Bill’s conversation with Justice Thomas above.