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Clarence Thomas
1948 -
U.S. Supreme Court justice

I am of the view that black Americans will move inexorably and naturally toward conservatism when we stop discouraging them; when they are treated as a diverse group with differing interests; and when conservatives stand up for what they believe in rather than against blacks. This is not a prescription for success, but rather an assertion that black Americans know what they want, and it is not timidity and condescension. Nor do I believe gadget ideas such as enterprise zones are of any consequence when blacks who live in blighted areas know that crime, not lack of tax credits, is the problem. Blacks are not stupid. And no matter how good an idea or propsal is, no one is going to give up the comfort of the leftist status quo as long as they view conservatives as antagonistic to their interests, and conservatives do little or nothing to dispel the perception.

Oct. 1991 - from an article I Policy Review
My household was strong, stable, and conservative. God was central. School discipline, hard work, and knowing right from wrong were of the highest priority. ... These were not issues to be debated by keen intellectuals, bellowed about by rousing orators, or dissected by pollsters and researchers. They were a way of life. ... Unlike today, we debated no one about our way of life. We lived it.

quoted by Edwin Meese introducing Thomas at a Heritage Foundation lecture, Feb. 1, 1998
I do not believe that one should fight over things that don’t really matter. But what about those things that do matter? It is not comforting to think that the natural tendency inside us is to settle for the bottom, or even the middle of the stream.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
One might shut up when it doesn’t matter, but when it really counts, we are required to put up.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
We all share a reasonable and, in many ways, admirable, reluctance to leave the safety and peacefulness of private life to take up the larger burdens and challenges of active citizenship. The price is high, and it is easier and more enjoyable to remain within the shelter of our personal lives and our local communities, rather than the larger state. To enter public life is to step outside our more confined, comfortable sphere of life, and to face the broader, national sphere of citizenship. What makes it all worthwhile is to devote ourselves to the common good.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
There are those things that at one time we all accepted as more important than our comfort or discomfort—if not our very lives: Duty, honor, country! There was a time when all was to be set aside for these.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
... there is much wisdom that requires no genius. It takes no education and no great intellect to know that it is best for children to be raised in two parent families. Yet, those who dare say this are often accused of trying to impose their values on others. This condemnation does not rest on some great body of counterevidence; it is purely and simply an in-your-face response. It is, in short, intimidation. For brutes, the most effective tactic is to intimidate an opponent into the silence of self-censorship.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
It does no good to argue ideas with those who will respond as brutes.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
On matters of consequence, reasons and arguments must be of consequence.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
When struggling to find the right answer to a case, judges should adopt principles of interpretation and methods of analysis that reduce judicial discretion. Reducing discretion is the key to fostering judicial impartiality.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
A judge must attempt to keep at bay those passions, interests, and emotions that beset every frail human being. A judge is not a legislator, for whom it is entirely appropriate to consider personal and group interests. The ideal of justice is to be blind to such things.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
If we are to be a nation of laws and not of men, judges must be impartial referees who defend constitutional principles from attempts by particular interests (or even the people as a whole) to overwhelm them.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
A good argument diluted to avoid criticism is not nearly as good as the undiluted argument, because we best arrive at truth through a process of honest and vigorous debate. Arguments should not sneak around in disguise, as if dissent were somehow sinister. One should not cowed by criticism. In my humble opinion, those who come to engage in debates of consequence, and who challenge accepted wisdom, should expect to be treated badly. Nonetheless, they must stand undaunted. That is required. And that should be expected. For it is bravery that is required to secure freedom.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
My view is that judicial power is legitimate only if the constitution is law, which means that the judge applies principles that are both independent of his or her desires and that those principles have been adopted by the political community in one of the ways we recognize as a way of making law. This is the view called originalism, and it is despised by those who want judges to produce results the ratifiers never intended and modern legislatures will not vote.

Dec. 9, 1987 - quoted in the Chicago Tribune
... I [do not] believe gadget ideas such as enterprise zones are of any consequence when blacks who live in blighted areas know that crime, not lack of tax credits, is the problem. Blacks are not stupid.

Oct. 1991 - from an article in Policy Review magazine
There is a tendency among young upwardly mobile, intelligent minorities today to forget. We forget the sweat of our forefathers. We forget the blood of the marchers, the prayers and hope of our race. We forget who brought us into this world. We overlook who put food in our mouths and clothes on our backs. We forget commitment to excellence. We procreate with pleasure and retreat from the responsibilities of the babies we produce. We subdue, we seduce, but we don't respect ourselves, our women, our babies. How do we expect a race that has been thrown into the gutter of socio-economic indicators to rise above these humiliating circumstances if we hide from responsibility for our own destiny?

Jun. 09, 1985 - from a speech at Savannah State College
I was raised to survive under the totalitarianism of segregation, not only without the active assistance of government but with its active opposition ... Self-sufficiency and spiritual and emotional security were our tools to carve out and secure freedom. Those who attempt to capture the daily counseling, oversight, common sense, and vision of my grandparents in a governmental program are engaging in sheer folly. Government cannot develop individual responsibility....

1987 - from a speech to the Heritage Foundation
Race-conscious remedies are dangerous. We were raised to survive in spite of government-sanctioned bigotry.