Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Justice Clarence Thomas on C-Span

Justice Clarence Thomas was interviewed by Brian Lamb on C-Span's Q&A earlier this week. The video and transcript are now available here. It's a very long interview and worth watching. Here are some interesting moments from the transcript:

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LAMB: When the "60 Minutes" program came up, it said, "the justice nobody knows." That was the headline on it.

And I went back and checked our records, and [C-Span has] had you on, since you have been a justice, about 100 times.

THOMAS: That's right.

LAMB: There's only one other justice that appeared more, and that's Justice Breyer.

But I just wondered. "The justice nobody knows." How many of these justices here do we know?

THOMAS: Well, Brian, you hit the point. You - now you have - C-SPAN has been wonderful, by the way.

Do you remember after Bush v. Gore, that you had me on the day after Bush v. Gore was decided?

LAMB: With the kids.

THOMAS: With the kids. You've had me in your program to go to a local school as one of your leadership programs. You have had crews follow me all over the country.

But even during that time, what was the general media saying? That I was hunkered down and hiding out, I was angry. And then you go back and take a look at all your tape, and you see if you see any indication that I was either hunkered down or angry at anybody.

And so, that story persisted, despite the fact that I was constantly on C-SPAN.

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LAMB: How much do you read the newspapers?

THOMAS: Oh, I don't. I don't. I don't think it's a good use of my time.

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LAMB: Some of the toughest criticism I've seen since this book came out is Eugene Robinson.

THOMAS: Who's that?

LAMB: He is an African-American columnist for the "Washington Post."

THOMAS: Oh, I couldn't care less.

LAMB: Well, let me tell you what he said. I mean, and I just wonder if this …

THOMAS: Do you know who this is?

LAMB: Yes.

THOMAS: Well, I don't.

LAMB: I've interviewed him. And you have no idea.

THOMAS: I have no idea.

LAMB: He says, "I believe in" - I mean, this is how tough it has been this week. If you haven't read this, this will be new to you.

"I believe in affirmative action. But I have to acknowledge, there are arguments against it. One of the more cogent is the presence of Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court."

THOMAS: I really don't - that's useless to me. Why is that important?

LAMB: I don't know. But, I mean, people read his column.

THOMAS: I mean, you can find - but you could go and find somebody at a local tavern who has had too much to drink saying that.

That's useless. That's supposed to be insulting and cute.

When you get to the point of ridicule and making little sort of low-brow comments like that, then you've run out of real arguments.

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