Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
D.C.
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Mass.
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
N.Carolina
N.Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
S.Carolina
S.Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
W.Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Law Firm Website Design Companies : The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Justice Says Law Degree 'Worth 15 Cents'

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/10/23 14:11

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a 15-cent price tag stuck to his Yale law degree, blaming the school's affirmative action policies in the 1970s for his difficulty finding a job after he graduated. Some of his black classmates say Thomas needs to get over his grudge because Yale opened the door to extraordinary opportunities.

Thomas' new autobiography, "My Grandfather's Son," shows how the second black justice on the Supreme Court came to oppose affirmative action after his law school experience. He was one of about 10 blacks in a class of 160 who had arrived at Yale after the unrest of the 1960s, which culminated in a Black Panther Party trial in New Haven that nearly caused a large-scale riot.

The conservative justice says he initially considered his admission to Yale a dream, but soon felt he was there because of his race. He says he loaded up on tough courses to prove he was not inferior to his white classmates but considers the effort futile. He says he was repeatedly turned down in job interviews at law firms after his 1974 graduation.

"I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it," Thomas writes. "I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value."

Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.

His view isn't shared by black classmate William Coleman III.

"I can only say my degree from Yale Law School has been a great boon," said Coleman, now an attorney in Philadelphia. "Had he not gone to a school like Yale, he would not be sitting on the Supreme Court."

Coleman's Yale roommate, Bill Clinton, appointed him general counsel to the U.S. Army, one of several top jobs Coleman has held over the years.

Thomas said he began interviewing with law firms at the beginning of his third year of law school.

"Many asked pointed questions unsubtly suggesting that they doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated," he wrote. "Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of racial preference."

He said it was months before he got an offer, from then-Missouri Attorney General John Danforth.

Steven Duke, a white Yale law professor who taught when Thomas attended Yale, said Thomas is right to say that the significance of someone's degree could be called into question if the person was admitted to an institution on a preferential basis. However, he said that could be overcome by strong performance, noting that two Yale graduates — Danforth and President Bush — put Thomas into top jobs.

"I find it difficult to believe he actually regrets the choice he made," Duke said. "It seems to me he did pretty well."

Some classmates say Thomas — who was raised poor in Georgia and stood out on campus in his overalls and heavy black boots — faced a tougher transition than black students who came from middle-class or privileged backgrounds.

Frank Washington, a black classmate and friend of Thomas who also came from a lower-income background, said he had 42 interviews before he landed a job at a Washington law firm.

"It seemed like I had to go through many more interviews than a lot of my other non-minority classmates," said Washington, now an entrepreneur who owns radio and television stations.

Other black classmates say their backgrounds didn't matter.

Edgar Taplin Jr., raised by a single parent in New Orleans, said he landed a job after graduation at the oldest law firm in New York, and does not recall black graduates struggling more to get jobs than their white classmates.

"My degree was worth a lot more than 15 cents," said Taplin, who retired in 2003 as a global manager with Exxon Mobil.

Thomas has declined to have his portrait hung at Yale Law School along with other graduates who became U.S. Supreme Court justices. An earlier book, "Supreme Discomfort," by Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, portrays Thomas as still upset some Yale professors opposed his confirmation during hearings marked by Anita Hill's allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh turned down requests for interviews about the justice's book, but said in a statement that he and his predecessors have invited Thomas to have his portrait done and the offer still stands.

Koh said they met for several hours about a year ago. "He made it clear that he had greatly enjoyed his time at Yale Law School, and that he had great affection for his fellow students and for several professors who are still here," he said.


Legal News | Breaking News | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Law Firm Web Design, Attorney Website Design by Law Promo

ⓒ Breaking Legal News. All Rights Reserved.

The content contained on the web site has been prepared by BLN as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case.
   More Legal News
   Legal Spotlight
   Exclusive Commentaries
   Attorney & Blog - Blog Watch
   Law Firm News  1  2  3  4  5  6 
   Lawyer & Law Firm Links
San Francisco Trademark Lawyer
San Francisco Copyright Lawyer
www.onulawfirm.com
New Rochelle Accidents Attorneys
New Rochelle Personal Injury
www.kboattorneys.com
Chicago Business Lawyer
Cook County Contract Law
www.rothlawgroup.com
Canton Criminal Lawyer
Canton DUI lawyer
www.cantoncriminalattorney.com
Surry County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Yadkin County Family Law Attorneys
www.dirussolaw.com
Oregon DUI Law Attorney
Eugene DUI Lawyer. Criminal Defense Law
www.mjmlawoffice.com
Houston Car Accident Attorneys
Wrongful Death Attorneys Houston
Houston Wrongful Death
New York Adoption Lawyers
New York Foster Care Lawyers
Adoption Pre-Certification
www.lawrsm.com
Santa Ana Workers' Compensation Lawyers
www.gentryashtonlaw.com
Indianapolis personal injury lawyer
Brain injury lawyer Indianapolis
www.rwp-law.com
Eugene Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy Attorney Eugene
willamettevalleybankruptcy.com
   More Legal News  1  2  3  4  5  6
   Legal News Links
  Click The Law
  Daily Bar News
  The Legal Voice
  The Legal Report
  Legal News Post
  Crisis Legal News
  Legal News Journal
  Law Firm Logos
  Eugene Criminal Defense Law
  Attorney Web Design
  Immigration Law Web Design
  Law Firm Directory