JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS

Jurisprudence

“When interpreting the Constitution and statutes, judges should seek the original understanding of the provision’s text if the meaning of that text is not readily apparent. This approach works . . . to reduce judicial discretion and to maintain judicial impartiality. First, by tethering their analysis to the understanding to those who drafted and ratified the text, modern judges are prevented from substituting their own preferences for the Constitution. Second, it places the authority for creating the legal rules in the hands of the people and their representatives, rather than in the hands of the judiciary. . . Third, this approach recognizes the basic principle of a written Constitution. ‘We the people’ adopted a written Constitution precisely because it has a fixed meaning, a meaning that does not change … Aside from amendment, according to Article V, the Constitution’s meaning cannot be updated, or changed, or altered by the Supreme Court, the Congress, or the President.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, Francis Boyer Lecture, AEI Annual Dinner, February 13, 2001

OTHER SPEECHES/INTERVIEWS ON JUSTICE THOMAS

“It’s not my constitution to play around with … People can say you are an originalist. I just think we should interpret the Constitution as it’s drafted, not as we would have drafted it.” – Justice Thomas

JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS

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