: that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas believes we have "too many rights," or that he finds his job just too onerous.
Justice Thomas talked about his own school days, reminiscing fondly about seeing “a flag and a crucifix in each classroom.” He talked about his burdens and his dark moods and about seeking inspiration in speeches and movies. And though the dinner was sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, he admitted to an uneasy relationship with the whole idea of rights.
The institute had arranged for a fancy hot-pink lectern that glowed from the inside, and it was odd to see Justice Thomas, who is wary of ostentation, standing behind it. His plain-spoken manner was in sharp contrast to his surroundings.
“I tend to be morose sometimes,” the justice said.
“I am rounding the last turn for my 18th term on the court,” he added, but his work — “this endeavor,” he called it, “or, for some, an ordeal” — has not gotten easier. “That’s one thing about this job,” he said. “You get a little tired.”
But he said he had found solace in his den.
“Sometimes, when I get a little down,” Justice Thomas said wearily, he goes online. “I look up wonderful speeches, like speeches by Douglas MacArthur, to hear him give without a note that speech at West Point — ‘duty, honor, country.’ How can you not hear those words and not feel strongly about what we have?”
He continued: “Or how can you not reminisce about a childhood where you began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance as little kids lined up in the schoolyard and then marched in two by two with a flag and a crucifix in each classroom?”
A favorite movie can be a comfort, too.
“I have on many occasions or a number of occasions when things were becoming particularly routine gone down to my basement to watch ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ” he said. “I can’t tell you why that particular movie, except we have it and it’s about something important in our lives — World War II.”
The event, on March 31, was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.
“Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.” “I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”