U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the commencement speaker at Hillsdale College’s graduation this past weekend. The honorable jurist spoke to a group of just over 5,000 graduation attendees and extolled to them the virtues of the Constitution and of the importance of doing what is right even when it is unpopular.
“I resist what seems to be some formulaic or standard fare at commencement exercises, some broad complaint about societal injustice and at least one exhortation to the young graduates to go out and solve the stated problem or otherwise to change the world. Having been where you are, I think it is hard enough for you to solve your own problems, not to mention those problems that often seem to defy solution. In addressing your own obligations and responsibilities in the right way, you actually help to ensure our liberty and our form of government.”
Justice Thomas spoke specifically to the idea that political correctness has done much damage to our nation, and that those with politically incorrect views had a duty to continue speaking their minds.
“At the risk of understating what is necessary to preserve liberty in our form of government, I think more and more that it depends on good citizens, discharging their daily duties in their daily obligations…
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I admit to being unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic and unapologetically a Constitutionalist… Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness.”
On his friend Justice Antonin Scalia:
“He knew that though not nearly perfect, our constitutional ideals were perfectible if we worked to protect them rather than to undermine them. Don’t discard that which is precious along with that which is tainted.”
His entire speech seemed steeped in the idea that freedom and liberty are best defended by the people and not by the government — particularly the idea that we can best protect liberty by remembering the cultural peculiarities that helped us to secure it. Specifically, duty, honor, and personal responsibility.
“There could be no freedom without each of us discharging our responsibilities. That was first and foremost. In that context, when we heard the words ‘duty,’ ‘honor,’ ‘country,’ no more needed to be said. But that is a bygone era. Today, we rarely hear of our personal responsibilities in discussions of broad notions such as freedom or liberty.”
Watch all of Justice Thomas’ brilliant speech below: