Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Justice Clarence Thomas Speaks at Reagan Library

From the Ventura County Star:

Dana Rene Bowler / Star staff

Justice Clarence Thomas escorts former first lady Nancy Reagan after speaking to a sold-out crowd Tuesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

Thomas inspired by U.S. soldiers
Justice answers questions in Simi

By Anna Bakalis (Contact)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

There are times when Clarence Thomas wishes he could take his wife and go home to Georgia, leaving his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But then he meets soldiers who came back from the war in Iraq with missing limbs and eyes, laid up in hospital beds with blood seeping through their bandages. Thomas realizes he wouldn't change a thing.

"I was ashamed of myself," Associate Justice Thomas, 68, said Tuesday at the Reagan Library. "If these kids can be in harm's way, defending our freedom and our country, it is not hard for me to stay in Washington."

Thomas was answering a question about what he would do if he weren't a justice on the nation's highest court. He spoke to a sold-out audience of about 700 in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Tuesday evening.

Thomas walked into the Presidential Learning Center arm in arm with Nancy Reagan, whom he acknowledged in opening remarks.

"You honor us in so many ways I can't express," Thomas said to Reagan.

His wife, Virginia Lamp Thomas, also was in attendance.

Though billed as a lecture, the event was more of a question-and-answer session, where the audience was asked to submit questions on cards that were later read by Duke Blackwood, the library's director.

Blackwood asked about the outcome of the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended the Florida recounts and allowed Florida to certify its vote.

"I think that decision was right," Thomas said to audience applause. "It's the correct legal analysis.

"Although I would have written a longer opinion," he quipped.

Thomas talked about Ronald Reagan and how the nation's 40th president bore similarities to his grandfather, who raised Thomas in Savannah, Ga., and offered him the guidance he is ruled by today, Thomas said.

"It's not about us," Thomas said. "It's about the principles we stand for — liberty, country, honor and integrity."

Thomas supports a strict interpretation of the Constitution and limits on the power of federal government in favor of states' rights, he said.

"It's not up to me to make up words in the Constitution that aren't there," he said.

In 1980, he changed his voter registration from Democrat to Republican so he could vote for Reagan.

"I didn't consider myself a Republican. But what he said and the way he said it reflected the way I was raised in Georgia."

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