Skip to comments.(Justice Clarence)Thomas having effect on law school
Posted on 05/13/2003 5:56:18 AM PDT by CFW
By Kate Carter
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will address UGA's law school graduation Saturday.
When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivers the graduation speech at the University of Georgia School of Law Saturday, it will mark the culmination of a four-month controversy that has piqued emotions and, in some cases, pitted faculty against students.
Nearly four months ago, David Shipley, dean of the law school, announced that Thomas, as a native Georgian and a member of the nation's highest court, would deliver the 2003 commencement address. Shipley and the three students who chose Thomas were criticized by law professor Eugene Wilkes - among others - for choosing a speaker who Wilkes said had a lamentable record on human rights.
But on April 22, a petition signed by 11 faculty members and 50 students sparked new debate. The petition read, ''We, as students, faculty and staff of the law school, have placed our signatures below to express our objection to the process and result of this year's commencement speaker. The process was under-inclusive, clandestine and divisive. The result, too, is divisive and is disrespectful of a substantial number of graduating students and their families.''
Josh Belinfante, president of the Federalist Society and one of the three students who helped select Thomas, said Monday that the petition used overly invective language.
''It went almost to the level of personal attacks,'' said Belinfante. ''I have no problem with people registering opposition or dissent. But neither I, or Megan Jones, or Rebecca Franklin (the other two students responsible for the selection of Thomas) were ever contacted or offered an opportunity to explain what occurred.''
In response to the petition, Belinfante wrote a letter to students, explaining the selection process and registering his disappointment that those who drafted the petition never approached anyone involved in the decision.
He also sent a letter to the faculty who had signed the petition, criticizing them for signing ''something accusing a student-led process of being divisive, clandestine and disrespectful without contacting any of the students.''
Belinfante said that he and some fellow classmates ''who are very supportive and very active in the law school community'' have reduced the amount of money they will contribute to the 2003 class gift.
According to Phyllis Cooke, director of annual giving, the Legacy 2003 Class Gift Program decreased by approximately $2,000 when a ''handful'' of students, who were disturbed by the petition denouncing the selection of Thomas, decided to reduce their gift amount. Cooke said the fund, however, has risen again to $11,896.
Wilkes, who said he has received ''hate-filled'' e-mails from around the country - including one signed ''Mohammed Stalin Hussein'' - said he will deliver his own speech at the Tate Student Center on Saturday. He said he will discuss Thomas's judicial record at the same time Thomas delivers the commencement address.
Wilkes, who has been accused publicly of infrequently attending graduation, said he never made any claim to be a faithful graduation attendee. But he said Thomas's presence ruled out any chance that he would have attended.
''It's been very stressful. It's been very stressful for the law school,'' said Wilkes. ''That's one of the reasons this petition says this is so divisive.''
UGA law professor Jim Ponsoldt said he thinks the debate ''has gotten a little out of hand,'' even though he thinks Thomas should not be able to deliver the graduation speech.
''It's the fact of the graduation speech that makes a difference,'' said Ponsoldt. ''Because it is an endorsement by the law school of him.''
But UGA law professor Ray Patterson, who said he disagrees with most of Thomas's positions, does not think Thomas's invitation to speak at graduation represents an institutional endorsement of Thomas's politics.
''It's a lot of nonsense for people to raise objections to his speaking at the graduation,'' he said. ''I think his position is something that deserves respect, whether you agree with his personal views or not.''
Likewise, Timika Woods, president of the Black Law Student Association, said she does not agree with Thomas's decisions, but does not think he should be banned from delivering the graduation speech. Rather, in a letter to Shipley, Woods said that BLSA members simply expressed disappointment that more students did not have the chance to participate in the selection process.
Shipley said one result of the controversy is a new, formal policy on choosing the graduation speaker. Unlike past years, when the selection has been an informal process, all members of the graduating class can submit nominations, and representatives from all student organizations discuss the nominations and come up with a short list. The dean will then make the final decision, based on the student-generated list of names.
Shipley said that despite the controversy, he believes the ''overwhelming response'' to Thomas's invitation has been positive.
''I know one thing,'' said Shipley. ''Freedom of speech is alive and well here.''
Okay, anyone want to "fess up"?
Will we see vindication & justice in our lives?
Open memo to Prof. Wilkes: Check your Six!!!
You should see some of the emails that are going back and forth. One actually had the subject line: "Wilkes is a jackass". That one was from a student.
You are so correct.
Hopefully, he will at least get his exams graded before concentrating on writing his speech for his protest. However, he loves to see his name in print, so I'm sure that speech is probably top priority. The liberal Flagpole Magazine publishes every word Wilkes utters.
A best selling book about him is entitled "Strange Justice." A New York Times editorial brands him the Court's "cruelest justice." He is one of the principal reasons the Court is leading this country through a counterrevolution in civil liberties, civil rights, and privacy protections, in which nearly anything the government does in the name of fighting crime or terrorism is deemed constitutionally acceptable.
Justice Thomas is also one of the five right-wing Republican justices who stole the presidency from Al Gore in 2000 in that egregious manifestation of political partisanship desguised as a court judgment, Bush v. Gore, the most outrageously partisan decision in Supremem Court history, a decision in which, as Vincent Bugliosi says, "the Court committed the unpardonable sin of being a knowing surrogate for the Republican party instead of being an impartial arbiter of the law."
Anyone who questions why the Supreme Court is no longer the guardian of liberty, rights, and justice, and has become the lapdog of big government and a cheerleader for the executive branch, need only examine the career of Justice Thomas to find the answer. The courts are failing us, freedoms are fading, because we have foolishly allowed compassionless creatures such as Clarence Thomas to become our judges. The enemies of liberty have been placed in charge of protecting liberty.
I wonder if these systems, or upgraded versions, are still around. All I know is that my unit, 6/56 ADA (motto - Night Hides Not) was deactivated during the 90s.
The four years that I spent at 6/56 were a wonderful experience. Platoon Leader (Chaprral and Vulcan), Maintenance Officer, Asst. S-3 (Operations Officer), Asst. S-4 (Supply Officer), and S-4, were the positions I served in. I arrived as a butterbar (2LT), and left as a Captain.
Culturally, it was a great experience, as I was able to live in Traben-Trarbach, a small town on the Mosel River, for 3 years.
And who made it stressful? WILKES!
Yeah, when Bush stops pussying around and just puts every held-up nominee into office using recess appointments...Estrada, Own, Pickering, and dozens others who have been blocked by the unprecedented Socialist cabal. Every day these nominees are kept off the court is a victory for the march of Socialism in America. Enough of the Senate pattycake with Democrats...RECESS APPOINTMENTS ON MEMORIAL DAY.
It may yet be a racial issue. The outrage of the Left is well documented regarding Thomas as, in their words, an "Uncle Tom" (sold out to whitey).
The peer pressure to maintain or grow the 90% of the black vote for Gore must be enormous. One has to admire the 10% having the fortitude to think independently.
Oops sorry. In reading your previous post, I thought you had inadvertantly replied on the wrong thread. We are discussing Justice Thomas and you are giving the specs to some awesome piece of machine.
Now I see you were actually responding to a post here. I'm sorry, I apologize. You have to admit, your post does look out of place.
Thanks for the reply, and yes, the post does look out of place.
So, to try and get back to the subject at hand, I bet Justice Thomas would look great in this machine, as he sends a Chaparral heat-seeking missile up Prof. Wilkes' a$$.
Agreed. LOL. It should be an interesting weekend. I'll post newspaper articles and updates next week.
Law School Graduation 2001 - Senior Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (President Jimmy Carter appointed Kravitch to the federal bench in 1979)
Law School Graduation 2000 - Governor Roy E. Barnes(D)
Neither the Vulcan or Chap are in the US Army inventory (not even the National Guard). However, I was at North McGrager Range about 2 years ago and all the Chaps were there being refurbished for FMS. The only C/V you'll see are on display.
IT FLIES, IT DIES!!
By Janis Reid
A shower of local and national media attention will accompany U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' 10 a.m. Saturday commencement address at the University of Georgia School of Law.
David Shipley, dean of the law school, announced four months ago that Thomas, a native Georgian, would give the 2003 commencement address.
Shortly after that announcement, Shipley and the three students who chose Thomas were criticized by UGA law professor Eugene Wilkes and others for choosing a speaker Wilkes said has a ''lamentable record on individual rights issues.''
Late last month, a petition signed by 11 faculty members and 50 students emerged. The petition took issue with the ''process and result'' of Thomas' selection, calling it ''under-inclusive, clandestine and divisive.''
Thomas was first chosen by a group of law students comprised of the third-year president and vice president, and the second-year vice president. The three students then forwarded their choice to Shipley for approval.
Even though a few groups - such as the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and the Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary organizations - have expressed interest in protesting during Thomas' speech Saturday, Wilkes was the only person, as of Thursday afternoon, to have obtained a permit to protest on the UGA campus.
Wilkes will be delivering his own speech at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Tate Center Plaza to discuss Thomas' judicial record.
Heidi Murphy, director of communications for the law school, said the security measures that will be taken for Thomas' appearance will be similar to those taken with last year's high-profile law school commencement speaker, Deputy U.S. Attorney Larry Thompson.
Murphy could not say exactly what security measures would be taken, however, because security for both Thomas and Thompson is handled by their own security staffs.
But Murphy said there would be ''definitely more'' news coverage of Thomas' speech than of last year's address. ''We'll have more media attention than we've had in a long time,'' she said.
According to Murphy, television news outlets with plans to cover Saturday's commencement include ''NBC Nightly News,'' the Fox News cable network, Atlanta's Fox network affiliate, Atlanta's CBS News and C-SPAN, the cable public affairs network.
Print news sources scheduled to cover the event include Knight-Ridder, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Athens Banner-Herald.
If there was ever any question about the significance of Clarence Thomas' place in American history, it has been answered in recent months. Few individuals carry such influence and intrigue that the mere possibility of their presence can spark a frenzy. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas has a secure place in this select group.
The announcement late last year that Thomas would be the commencement speaker at the University of Georgia School of Law graduation immediately sparked debate, inflamed emotions and brought calls for protest. The furor subsided for a few months, but, as Saturday's graduation draws closer, it has returned with a vengeance.
In late April, 11 faculty members and 50 students signed a petition which helped revive the debate over Thomas. The petition read, ''We, as students, faculty and staff of he law school, have placed our signatures below to express our objection to the process and result of this year's commencement speaker. The process was under-inclusive, clandestine and divisive. The result, too, is divisive and is disrespectful of a substantial number of graduating students and their families.''
It's somewhat amusing to hear lawyers complain about the divisiveness of a situation. Makes you wonder whether they picked the right line of work. Few professions encounter or even create more differences in opinion than the law. If some of the lawyers-in-training at the university are offended by a little dissent over a graduation speaker, how will they cope when pitted against other attorneys in a trial or negotiation?
As for this criticism of the selection process, the issues are legitimate, but the motivation certainly seems suspect. Last year, three student leaders approached David Shipley, dean of the law school, about inviting Thomas to give the graduation address. At the time the law school had only an informal process for selecting commencement speakers. Sometimes students would make suggestions, other years it was left up to the dean to decide who to invite.
Given the lack of outrage in previous years, it seems this process of choosing graduation speakers didn't ruffle too many feathers before. It was only when the invitation was given to a firebrand whose remarks might not follow the typically staid commencement mold that people suddenly started complaining about the selection process.
As a result of this uproar, a more formal process for choosing speakers was established for future graduations. Students in the graduating class will be invited to make nominations, which will then be discussed by a committee of representatives from all law school student organizations. The committee then will compile a short list of nominees, and the dean will make the final decision.
While these revisions should improve the selection process - if nothing else by taking some of the pressure off the dean - we hope they don't prevent outspoken or controversial individuals from being invited. Some of the most provocative and influential people hold opinions that challenge our way of thinking and evoke passionate and often contrary reactions. If this new process results in bland speakers who say only what people want to hear, then its inclusiveness at one end will lead to exclusion at the other.
As a native Georgian and member of the nation's highest court, Thomas' selection as commencement speaker for UGA's law school graduation is not only appropriate, but may also make the event more memorable. Yet, his remarks need not win over the entire audience for the speech to be successful. Certainly those who often disagree with him shouldn't expect this day to be different. The most important thing any commencement speech can do is make people think. If Justice Thomas achieves that goal, then the tumultuous months leading up to his address will have been worthwhile.
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Friday, May 16, 2003.
He hasn't changed. LOL!
The mayor wants to make it against the law to have more than two unrelated people living in a rental house (in a college town?!!??). It's ridiculous.
Professional Biographical Information: James F. Ponsoldt joined the University of Georgia School of Law faculty in 1978 and was appointed as the Joseph Henry Lumpkin Professor of Law in 1997. He specializes in the areas of antitrust, corporations, criminal procedure and communications law.
Recent scholarship includes "Entrapment When the Spoken Word is the Crime" in Fordham Law Review (2000) (with Stephen Marsh); "The Judicial Legitimization of Horizontal Price-fixing among Partially Integrated Heath Care Providers: An Antitrust/Health Care Case Study," in the Alabama Law Review (1999) (with Lance McMillian); and "Refusals to Deal in Locked-In' Health Care Markets" in the Utah Law Review (1996).
He is presently working on several articles, including one on Rule of Reason analysis, another on vertical restraints analysis in the EU and the U.S., and a third on race sensitivity in school assignment plans.
Warning: Triple Barf alert is warranted.