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!
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