A Justice led by Faith
Its that time of year again when hard-working students come to the end of their college career to graduate. It’s also that time of year when Supreme Court Justices are asked to share their words of wisdom and give a Commencement Speech to the graduating class.
In the second week of May, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the commencement address to Christendom College.
“Christendom College is a Catholic liberal arts college offering a time-tested and rigorous education that develops the student’s intellect in such a powerful way that he graduates with the ability to master any subject—no matter how complex the vocational calling.”
Justice Thomas began his 25-minute address to students and faculty with some light-hearted comments, his Catholic faith and his path in the journey of life.
During the commencement address, Justice Thomas mentioned graduation was “a time to celebrate a milestone in so many young lives”. He quoted Sir Winston Churchhill who said “it is not the end or the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning of your education and your young lives. Lives that are hopefully spent in the pursuit of truth and wisdom.”
During his commencement speech, Justice Thomas left the graduating class with some interesting faith-centric stories from his and others lives.
- If you want to know what is down the road, ask the person who is coming back on the road of life. The person next to you now is a fellow traveler. Those of us with gray hair and wrinkles are coming back in a sense, meeting you on your way along the path of life that we have already traveled, some of us long ago.
- Justice Thomas spoke of his strong belief in god and described himself as “unapologetically Catholic”. He said how this faith had guided him during some of the worst seemingly hopeless times in his life.
- He spoke of his early life growing up attending Catholic School and how even now as he nears his 70th Birthday he reflects back on what he was taught in those formative years and how much has changed. He said “I have read much, learned much and experienced a lifetime of ups and downs. I have studied the elegy, philosophy, history, and law. Yet I have not come across a better statement of our purpose in life than what I was taught six decades ago”.
He left the students with a final statement “May God continue to bless and guide each of you throughout your lives and I pray that you know and serve him in this life so that you can be happy with him in the next, God bless you.”
Justice Thomas has been a Supreme Court Justice for nearly 25 years and has written close to five hundred opinions, legal scholars and pundits have given him short shrift, often, in fact, dismissing him as a narrow partisan, a silent presence on the bench, an enemy of his race And yet, as this book makes clear, few justices of the Supreme Court have developed as clear and consistent a constitutional jurisprudence as Thomas. Also little known but apparent in Ralph A. Rossum’s detailed assessment of the justice’s jurisprudence is how profound Thomas’s impact has been in certain areas of constitutional law
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