On July 28, 1998, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gave the keynote speech at the National Bar Association, the predominately black national lawyers"s association, at its annual convention held that year in Memphis, Tennessee. The speech appears below.
Mr. Mayor, my fellow colleagues of both bench and bar, it’s a pleasure to be here. And one advantage is that similar to being on the bench, I have heard all of the arguments, and will take them under advisement. [Muted laughter and applause.] I have been told recently that Judge Bailey does not take matters under advisement that frequently, so I will stay out of his court. But it is indeed a pleasure to be here.
A friend of mine who passed away some nine years ago was an active member of the NBA. And many of you may remember him, Gil Hardy. [applause.] Probably one of the most painful tragedies for me of my confirmation was to see the name of one of the nicest, most decent human beings I had ever met, besmirched. And Gil was my best friend at both college and at Yale Law School. He was the best man at my wedding and he is the person to whom I went for solace.
For those of you with whom I do not share the same opinion, and perhaps that is many, I will take only 30 minutes of your time. And perhaps at least we can part company having known we at least visited for 30 minutes.
Thank you, Judge Keith, for your kind, warm words. As always, I deeply appreciate the manner in which you have made yourself available over the years for counsel and advice. And I appreciate your courteous and dignified example over the past 15 years. And I might add parenthetically here, I met Judge Keith in the early ’80s when I was trying to figure out a way to distribute in excess of 10-million dollars to minorities for scholarships, and was being opposed by individuals who should have been supporting us. And it was his advice and counsel that bolstered us in that effort. We who are just commencing our tenures as judges can only hope to emulate your positive spirit and the