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Hatch Center Hosts Justice Thomas in Historic Visit to Utah

Salt Lake City, UT—Tonight the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation hosted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in Salt Lake City for a special fireside discussion that covered a wide variety of topics—from Justice Thomas’s judicial philosophy to his experience growing up in the Deep South. The event marked the first visit by a Supreme Court Justice to Utah since the Hatch Foundation hosted Justice Gorsuch in September 2019 at Brigham Young University.
 
“Thanks to his steadfast adherence to originalism and the rule of law, Justice Thomas has been called a ‘judge’s judge,’ said Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren. “But he’s also the ‘people’s judge.’ Why? Because he’s lived the full spectrum of American life—from crushing poverty in the Deep South to the Ivy-covered campuses of the Northeast to the hallowed chambers of the highest court in the land. He knows what it means to be an American, having lived every walk of American life.”
 
“Tonight, we saw an intimate portrait of Justice Thomas—a man of boundless warmth, humor, and above all, intellect,” said Hatch Foundation Board Chair Scott Anderson. “For more than three decades, Justice Thomas has anchored the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence to the true meaning of the Constitution. His steadfast adherence to originalism and textualism has helped temper the intemperate impulses of Congress and helped preserve the integrity of our courts. No matter the circumstance, Justice Thomas always says what the law is—not what he wants it to be. And in that sense, he’s everything a judge should aspire to be.”
 
“More than anything else, the characteristic that Justice Thomas has consistently exhibited throughout his life—from his youth in rural Georgia, to his early years in Washington, and through his long and distinguished tenure on the Supreme Court—is courage,” said President Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Courage in the face of adversity and strong opposition as he has persisted in insisting on the text of the Constitution, even when it leads to results that might not be politically popular. We are fortunate to have Justice Clarence Thomas on the United States Supreme Court and are honored to have him with us tonight.”
 
To begin the program, Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren welcomed a crowd of more than 500 community leaders to the main ballroom of the Grand America Hotel. President Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk and Utah Supreme Court Justice—then introduced Justice Thomas. Afterward, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas R. Lee—a former law clerk to Justice Thomas—hosted the fireside discussion. The discussion touched on a broad range of topics, including Justice Thomas’s personal background and his experience on the Supreme Court.
 
Background
 
Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in the Pinpoint community near Savannah, Georgia on June 23, 1948. He attended Conception Seminary from 1967-1968 and received an A.B., cum laude, from College of the Holy Cross in 1971 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974. He was admitted to law practice in Missouri in 1974, and served as an Assistant Attorney General of Missouri, 1974-1977; an attorney with the Monsanto Company, 1977-1979; and Legislative Assistant to Senator John Danforth (R-Missouri), 1979-1981. From 1981-1982 he served as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, and as Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1982-1990. From 1990-1991, he served as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President George H.W. Bush nominated him to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and he took his seat on October 23, 1991. He married Virginia Lamp on May 30, 1987 and has one child, Jamal Adeen, by a previous marriage.

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