U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke before an audience of more than 1,200 faculty, staff, students and guests on April 9 at a special event hosted by the School of Law.
Thomas joined Law Dean Ken Gormley and Thomas M. Hardiman, a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, on stage in the Union Ballroom, where he answered questions and discussed everything from his upbringing in Georgia to his Catholic school education to his appointment as only the second Africa-American on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The event also included a video tribute to Thomas produced and narrated by Gormley. The event concluded with a performance by the St. Benedict the Moor church choir.
Thomas ended up extending his stay in Pittsburgh so that he could pay a surprise visit to the School of Law on Wednesday, April 10. He met with students in the law school lobby, where he chatted, posed for cell-phone photos and shared stories with students before accompanying Gormley to his 10:30 a.m. class on constitutional law. Thomas accepted Gormley’s invitation to speak in class and ended up teaching the first hour, answering a wide range of questions on important constitutional cases and engaging in a lively give-and-take with the second-year day students.
“It was really amazing,” said Gormley. “Justice Thomas was totally spontaneous, warm and engaging. The students said it was their best class of the year.”
Following class, Thomas had Pittsburgh’s famous Primanti’s sandwiches delivered to the law school and had lunch with Gormley. He also walked the halls of the law school and thanked members of the staff for their help in organizing the Tuesday program in the ballroom.
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