Clarence Thomas: “Be a Beacon of Light for Others to Follow” (Hillsdale College Commencement Speech)


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gave a commencement speech Saturday at Hillsdale College. He notably urged the students to preserve liberty through ordinary citizenship: “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.”

He further emphasized the duties of citizenship: “today we rarely hear of our personal responsibilities…It is as though freedom and liberty exist wholly independent of anything we do.”

On the founding principles of the country, Thomas said that his grandfather told him “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.”

Thomas went on to declare that “I admit to being unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic and unapologetically a Constitutionalist,” although in current times, “hallmarks of (his) youth, such as patriotism and religion seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts. So in a sense, I feel woefully out of place doing this or any commencement.”

Justice Thomas finally told graduates to “be a beacon of light for others to follow…especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness…as you go through life, try to be that person whose actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens.”

Read more analysis and transcripts of the speech at, and