U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Thomas Tells Students He's a 'No-Frills Guy' Who Doesn't Read the Times

When he’s not on the bench, Justice Clarence Thomas and his “best buddies” talk about sports and recreational vehicles—anything but the law. He doesn’t play golf or tennis, and he doesn’t drink or smoke.

Thomas described himself as a “no-frills guy” in remarks on Thursday at the University of Kentucky. On his 60th birthday, three nonlawyer friends joined him at the Cracker Barrel, Thomas said. The Lexington Herald-Leader, the Associated Press and the Kentucky Kernel have stories on the remarks.

Thomas had a quick answer when asked if he reads the New York Times every day, according to the Herald-Leader. “Oh, God, no!” he said.

Thomas praised the Supreme Court for its collegiality, but said it’s not like that everywhere, according to the AP account. “I don’t understand how we’ve gotten to this point where we think that because we don’t agree with someone we have license to be unpleasant, we have license to be rude and nasty and uncivil,” he said. “How does that advance the law? How do you win an argument with someone and persuade someone by starting out and calling them a jackass?”

He attributed his own refusal to ask questions in oral arguments partly to politeness. “Maybe it’s the Southerner in me. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, I don’t know. I think that when somebody’s talking, somebody ought to listen,” he said.

Among those questioning Thomas was ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, a University of Kentucky law school alum.

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