Thursday, October 18, 2007

Justice Thomas in New York

An account of his speech there:
Justice Thomas discuss Supreme Court frustrations in NYC speech

3:41 PM EDT, October 16, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) _ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Tuesday that people wrongly take shots at the court and he gets frustrated at times because he's unable to fully explain his positions.

"The perception of what we do is so different from what we actually do," Thomas told several hundred people at a luncheon in midtown Manhattan hotel to promote "My Grandfather's Son," his new book.

"Some of the discussions about what we do center around almost a political characterization of that. And it is not what we do," he said. "And I think it's an easy way to almost dismiss the importance of the court and the law as law."

Thomas, 59, said that was the saddest part of being a judge _ the misperceptions.

"So often you wish that you could sit down and explain to someone exactly what you are doing other than in your written opinion," he said. "But we don't have that opportunity to do press releases or come out and give press conferences about our work. So, it's frustrating when things are mischaracterized."

Thomas touched on a number of topics while answering questions from the audience. He talked about the difficultly of writing his book, which he described as a "long, lonely process" and the importance of written briefs submitted to court versus oral arguments.

"The real work is done in briefs," he said.

In response to another question, he said a threat to the Constitution was a lack of knowledge about it.

"I wonder how many people have even read the document, and maybe the greatest threat is we don't know how important it is or actually what's in it," he said. "If the Constitution is so important why do so many people know so little about it?"

Asked what he found most surprising about joining the court in 1991, Thomas said it was how civil the judges were "toward each other."

Then he added: "I was also surprised at how much work it was."

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