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21 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 5 (1994-1995)
Freedom: A Responsibility, Not a Right - Kormendy Lecture

handle is hein.journals/onulr21 and id is 15 raw text is: Freedom: A Responsibility, Not A Right

Kormendy Lecture
Delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas
It is delightful to be here tonight. It is always a joy to get to see
the rest of the country and not just the marble walls of the Court. I
am also most fortunate that my best friend, my wife, Virginia, was
able to accompany me on this trip.
As I near the end of my third term on the Court, I can say
without equivocation that the Court and my colleagues have far
exceeded all my expectations. Quite frankly, my move to the Court
was so swift that I had not thought much about the integral workings
of the Court. I had, however, been somewhat deceived by the sharp
exchanges in the opinions that I had read. I was pleasantly surprised
to find that such exchanges began and ended there. The civility of
the Court is extraordinary. We begin our day of sitting or conference
with a traditional handshake. This always seems to set the tone-then
we get down to work in a civil way. One not so pleasant surprise has
bgen the relentless pace of the work. From the beginning of the Term
to its conclusion, there is very little opportunity to let up. But with
that said, I am far more comfortable this Term with both the work
and the pace of the Court, and I anticipate that I will become
increasingly more comfortable as time passes. Some of my more
senior colleagues have suggested that it takes about five years to
become fully adjusted to the Court. I will have to make that judgment
in retrospect, as they have.
Late last year, I had the pleasant occasion to speak at the annual
conference of the Missouri Bar Association. In thinking about that
speech, I recalled a conversation with my grandfather in the spring
of 1968, just prior to my twentieth birthday. I had decided to leave
the seminary. This decision was entirely my own and was contrary to
my commitment to my grandfather (made at the age of 15) that I
would not quit. Needless to say, it was also contrary to his wishes.
After a minor dispute over an unrelated matter, he simply told me
that since I was man enough to make such important decisions, I was
man enough to take care of myself. At the time and for years
afterward, I thought that this was unnecessarily harsh treatment. In
retrospect, I have come to understand that he was not being harsh,
but rather, realistic and consistent. In fact, he was merely delivering
on a promise he had made throughout the years my brother and I
lived in his house.

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