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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir

            My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir

When Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, was recently interviewed he was asked how he prepared to render a decision on any case before him. He replied with an explanation that should serve as a model for any judge. Basically, he said that he begins by trying to clear his mind of any preconceived notions or prejudices that might lead him to consider the case with an outcome in mind. Then, he proceeds to review the appropriate portions of the United States Constitution that might be applied to the case. After that, he has research completed on contemporaneous documents that were written by the writers of the Constitution seeking further illumination. And, of course, he reviews previous decisions that may have been similar to the case under consideration.

While I have paraphrased his response, what a beautiful, logical, simple, and fair approach to deciding cases before him! Is this not the very essence of what we expect from a judge at any level? If every judge took this response, it wouldn’t matter if they were conservative, liberal or whatever, and justice would be done.
Alas, that’s not the case, but at least we have a man of noble character on the US Supreme Court in the person of Clarence Thomas. And his recent book which I just finished is a beautiful and touching tribute to his grandfather, Myers Anderson, who taught him that it was more important to have good character, to work hard and honestly, and to be forgiving, than it was to succumb to lesser instincts.

The book is called a memoir, and it is, but it is also a testimony to the character and faith of a man who many think could be justified in being angry and getting even. But, "My Grandfather’s Son" is not that kind of book. It’s a book about his love for his family, his love for his country, and his Christian faith. Clarence’s life, like all lives, has been filled with challenges and disappointments, but few have endured the bitter hatred and vicious lies he faced with such patience.

Yes, Justice Thomas deals with his confirmation hearingsa true black mark on the record of the United States Senate. He provides intimate insights into the almost overwhelming opposition he faced. And when his opponents, especially Senators Biden and Metzenbaum, dipped into the bottom of the barrel leveling charges of sexual harassment they assuredly knew to be false, Clarence Thomas did not break. It was unbelievable behavior by men who knew better, but lacked the intellectual honesty to deal fairly and truthfully.

But, let Justice Thomas tell the tale and much more. It is a good book and one that should be read by every American. Clarence Thomas provides a role model that would serve any young man well. I commend it to you.

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