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News Justice Clarence Thomas Chooses “Conversation” Format for Hruska Institute

Justice Clarence Thomas Chooses “Conversation” Format for Hruska Institute

At noon on September 15, United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas took the stage in the Hamann Auditorium at the University of Nebraska College of Law, appearing as the distinguished guest for the 2011 Roman L. Hruska Institute. Joining Thomas were Professor Josephine Potuto, Professor Richard Duncan, and Assistant Professor Eric Berger who took turns asking questions of the Justice. Thomas explained that the more relaxed format for the exchange was the idea of his wife Virginia who is a Nebraska native.

Thomas was forthright when asked about his reputation for trying to discern the original meaning of the Constitution. He admitted to consulting dictionaries from the late 1700s, then turned the question around and asked, "What else am I supposed to do? Use a Ouija board? Chicken bones?"

This comment was just one that allowed Thomas' sense of humor to emerge. While receiving questions from the overflow audience, he revealed that a favorite pastime of his and his wife's is traveling in an RV and staying in campsites around the country. He said they had stayed in Sidney, Nebraska, before but did not think that the sign, "Beware of Rattlesnakes" was very welcoming. Despite that comment, Thomas' affection for Nebraska was evident when he told the audience that his retirement plans include moving either to "the deep South ...or to Waverly, Nebraska!" His red "N" lapel pin also confirmed his rumored love of the Huskers."

When asked about the future of the Court, Thomas said, "We just can't predict what's next. I remember when cell phones were as big as a loaf o bread and had no reception. I think technology issues will be big, and things we couldn't do before like decide who is born and who dies."


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