It is true, Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged the other night, that the "we the people" extolled in the Constitution 225 years ago did not include people who looked like him.
But the Declaration of Independence did, he contended, and that was something that a black kid growing up in Savannah, Ga., was told early on.
"There was always this underlying belief that we were entitled to be a full participant in ‘we the people,' " Thomas told a crowd at the National Archives last week.
"That's the way we grew up. It was the way the nuns, who were all immigrants, would explain it to us — that we were entitled, as citizens of this country, to be full participants. There was never any doubt that we were inherently equal. It said so in the Declaration of Independence."
Thomas submitted to about an hour of extremely gentle questioning from Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar at an event called "The Constitution Turns 225," co-sponsored by the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center and the conservative Federalist Society.