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tv   Neil Gorsuch A Republic If You Can Keep It  CSPAN  October 4, 2019 2:58am-4:08am EDT

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this is just over one hour.
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ladies and gentlemen please welcome the supreme court associate justice neil gorsuch escorted by the reagan foundation institute and chairman fred ryan. good evening everyone. they have the honor of being the executive director of the presidential foundation and institute.
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thank you all for coming this evening. if you would in honor of our men and women in uniform who will protect our freedoms around the world, please stand and join me for the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> thank you. please be seated. before we get started, i would like to take a moment to recognize some special guests we have with us this evening. and i will begin with our board of trustees. we have with us governor pete wilson. [applause]
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from north carolina mr. ben sutton. [applause] former congressman retired but just as busy as ever. now on to tonight's program, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to invite the chairman of the board of trustees of the reagan foundation institute took the stage. [applause] good evening everyone. welcome to the reagan library and for joining us for what we know will be a fascinating conversation. we are honored to have justice neil gorsuch. it is understood after you go through senate hearings to be
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confirmed to the supreme court, you never have to answer questions again but you don't want to. instead, you get to ask the questions. justice neil gorsuch, we appreciate your making an exception for the interview. i promise i will do my best to make it a better experience for the senate judiciary committee. that is a low bar, i know. [applause] if you see a copy of the book you will know they hav had to collaborators, the former clerks and we are pleased to have david in the audience with us tonight. we are honored david is trying to buy his grandmother who is very special to us who has been at the library for more than 20
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years. [applause] served as a clerk to anthony kennedy who was the third and final appointment to the high court. he would become the first clerk to serve alongside her former boss as a former supreme court justice. i hope you are taking notes. the supreme court reflects the legacy and it's no secret he wanted that legacy to be. america's courts, he said, quote, should interpret the law.
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the role of the supreme court was to make sure principles of law are based on the constitution. the new book is practically a user's manual for the faithful interpretation of the constitution. it's also a wake-up call about what we might risk if we stray too far from the constitutional principles. the title of the book is a republic if you can keep it. that is how benjamin franklin is said to have answered questions about what type of government the founders created in the constitutional convention. to convey how fragile the liberties are and how vigilant they must be. it's the same caution reagan urged in his finish line it's never more than one generation away from extinction.
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learning what the courts and the citizens can do to preserve the constitutional freedom for the next generation. [applause] we are honored and divided to have you here on the day of publication of your book. i am so happy to be west of the mississippi. thank you for a wonderful, wonderful tour. your book opens with an
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interesting series of events back to washington on the occasion of your announcement of the nomination of supreme court and in many ways it reminds me of the screenplay of an action novel. can you share a little bit of stuff witthat with us? >> to say that it was a mac spec did doesn't begin to capture how it felt to me and my family. and i have a few stories to tell but i will share one with you not only did we hav have to snek out of our home town in colorado we had to sneak into the white house and they took us in through the kitchen. you probably know this better than i do. there are bullet holes and fire marks where the marble had been
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burned. the president was gracious enough to lend me the use of the lincoln bedroom for the day. i sat writing my remarks that evening at a desk where the gettysburg address is. my wife who was an immigrant from england had the use of the queen's bedroom across the hall. and she was allowed one phone call. [laughter] you won't believe it, it's going to be neil. it's about to happen. it was late in england and an announcement in the east room, he said i've been watching your television programs over here.
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there is a friend of the cost on tape driving towards washington, so it's not going to be neil. [laughter] in-laws, right. [laughter] she said th that i'm in the ques bedroom. i think it's going to be neil. he said that the other guy could be down the hall. [laughter] so that is what it was like. and leaving your home in colorado was also a little bit of a covert operation. >> iit was and i told that story in the book. it was a change for me and a shock.
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residing as a private citizen when all of a sudden everywhere i would be recognized and everybody that comes up to me has something nice to say. [applause] they may say i voted for the president or against the president, but i wish you well. i love our country. one moment that captured it for me it is taking place back and forth and i had somebody g havet and buy me some more shirts. i caught pneumonia on the way
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back and i was feeling sorry for myself and no good reason that we were on a plane and a bit of turbulence. i was seated next to a little girl probably 6-years-old. she didn't know or care who i was but she was scared and wanted to hope someone's hand and asked me i hold your hand than the flights moved out and she said would you like to draw. and we spent the next two and a half hours drawing and coloring. those were my favorite two and a half hours in the entire proce process. [applause] the sweet part afterwards after that moment.
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she made sure a thank you note was sent to my office and it was drawn by this little girl, two stick figures in front of a little airplane saying thank you for the fun. got to me is what america is about and that is what i got to see when i lost my anonymity. when god takes something away, he often gives you something in return and that is what i got to see. it was a real privilege. you did a previous book on a different subject but can you tell us what inspired you to write this and especially the selection of the franklin quote for the title? >> for the confirmation process i wanted to say something about america and the constitution.
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the great man smoked a pipe during his hearing and i don't think we are going to see that again. that is how long my hearing lasted in the appeals nominated the second first time. second time was a little different. during the process i came to feel tha some basic things aboue country we all need some reminders about the wonder of the constitution and how blessed we are to live under it. how all of us have a role to play in the republic that isn't
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supposed to be run by a small group. it is we the people, those first three words of the constitution. i became concerned during the process people think we are just judges with politician politicie tapes rather than robes and it's up to us to solve every problem and if we rule a certain way we must like the person we ruled for or dislike the person we ruled against. and all of that was so foreign as a leader and a judge. the lawyers identify area i've e judges i've admired note that the law is politics and the judges are not supposed to be politician and the constitution is the greatest arbiter of human liberty that the world has ever known.
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that is what i wanted to write about because that is my experience in the wall and i want to offer folks a little peek into my life in the court and how the judge thinks so you can see for yourself how different it is as a politician. politicians are elected to do your will. judges are not indexed to exercise with medicine called legal judgment, not well. it's right there in the federalist papers. [applause] when i dug into it further, i came to learn we do have a problem, 30% of americans only 30% can name the three branches of government. about another third can name one
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and 10% of americans apparently think they serve on the united states in court. [laughter] i respect judge judy. i like judge judy. [laughter] but she is not one of my colleagues. [laughter] and before we go for no other step further, i want to say i was joyfully able to do this with two of my law clerks and david is here. cheney is not what h that wouldt brag about them for ten seconds. he comes from a family of mexican immigrants in holocaust survivors. he saved up so he could achieve his dream of attending harvard law school, which he did and graduated first in his class. [applause]
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janey is every bit as special. her family escaped communism. she came here and managed to go to harvard, got degrees in statistics and physics and then got her way through harvard law school and wound up working for both me and sonya sotomayor. those are the people for whom i write this book and i'm able to work with and they give me such hope for the future. [applause] both of them served us your clerks and i know you have some simple rules.
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>> i told them if you do these two things we are going to get along just fine. i don't care how you come dressed to work and i don't care more or less what hours you work but i would like to see you from time to time. i just have to rules. please, first, don't make anything up. just follow the law as faithfully as you can. that is the judges job. so that is hard enough figuring out what the law is and what those words on the page mean and what their original meaning was. rule number two, when people start yelling come asking you, again you to make stuff up, telling you that you are a terrible person if you do not make stuff up, 21st of all they
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may not invite you to their cocktail parties if you don't, just refer back to rule number one. [laughter] one of the major themes is the framers mission of separated powers and the dangers of blurring the lines of separation, came to talk about why that is so important? >> we all know the first amendment rights and fourth amendment rights. we know the bill of rights and how they contribute, but i sometimes wonder if we don't appreciate enough for separation of powers and how important it is to our liberty. many countries have wonderful bills of rights. north korea is my favorite. [laughter] it promises all the rights you can find in the bill of rights, all of them and more.
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free education, health care, and even my favorite, the right to relaxation. i don't know how that is working out for the political prisoners of north korea, but the point is in madison knew this when he wrote the constitution, those are just promises. he didn't even think we need a bill of rights if we had the constitution and the structure, he knew men are not angels and the key to your liberty is keeping power separated. i am 1,913th of the federal government which is one half of the governments in the country. divide power. i think what happens when we ignore the separation of powers has been forgotten and i know it sounds kind of academic, and it did to me when i heard high school civics and was bored by it, but as a judge, and i've
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been a judge for a while now, especially just in the day in and day out cases i came to see what happens when you blur the lines of the separation of power in people's lives. what happens when the legislative power is transferred to the executive branch. madison wanted it to be really hard. it's supposed to be a public process, two houses of congress responsive to different electorates and different times. the whole idea was to make it already is the fulcrum of the process so they could exert special power to protect themselves. that's how he thought they would be protected more vi by the lisf promises in the bill of rights to. what happens when you take that
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process and you put it in the hands of the executive branch? they are supposed to apply the law, not make it and what's madison had in mind if you can take it through a this difficult process it could be vigorously enforced so let's put all the power in one person and. so what happens when you put one person in his place? they get accused of medicare fraud. that is the end of your business and you are fined $800,000 but then it turns out years later in
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the litigation that they have complied with all of the rules in place at the time into the agency was promulgating so many new rules and laws enforceable with criminal sanctions that even the agency couldn't keep up. i asked how many of these criminal regulations are out there on the books written by federal executive agents and sometimes not even responding to the president at all. i have veterans who come before me and immigrants who come before me. when i look at the law, they win. they deserve to. we have doctrines that say judges come independent judges
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should defer to the interpretation of the law by an executive bureaucrat. so even though i think the social security recipient should win, i have to rule the other way. what happens to the right as an independent judge and to participate in the lawmaking process? it is supposed to be republic. speaking of the three branches, do you feel that the branches are so equal? >> i hope so. >> have they always consistently maintained the same rule or overtime does one become more powerful? >> one can question by the virtue of a love of what has happened in the rule a lot more power has devolved to the executive branch than the framers had in mind just as i've talked about how the legislative
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power has moved, it is the executive branch, and a lot of the judicial power has moved the executive branch. >> earlare really into that youe introduced to import and concepts, one of her jo originad the application of the constitution and number two, textualism in the interpretation of the statutes. can you give us a summary explanation of what the conceptt is mean and why they are important? >> this is very important to me. the term original as i'm had been uttered by any of my professors in law school until justice scalia showed up on time and he introduced it to be. and it's not something i fully embrace or understoo were underl years later and i became a judge. and all it is is a simple idea
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they should abide the words on the page as they are originally understood at the time they were adopted. when it comes to written law when you talk about the statutes or contracts they felt the rule was to apply the words as they originally were meant and understood at the time they were written. our founders decided on a written constitution. they put it down on paper, they sit down the rights and obligations on paper. they didn't choose to believe it. so, original as some honors the written constitution. they could have done it otherwise.
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what happens when judges ignore or override the original meaning of the words on the page instead of pursue something they like to call a living constitution? .. >> your rights diminished and
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sometimes you don't have a right to confront your confuse or - - accuser sometimes a piece of paper can be introduced as a key evidence against you enough to send a person a way for 20 years or more. these are the rights that are taken away one of the most infamous decisions the supreme court took a lot of rights away from a whole class of citizens. japanese-american citizens could be rounded up and detained during the duration of the second world war without any due process. without any recognition protection under the constitution. judges thought we were doing something important, vital, to help the war effort. living constitution they
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ignore the words on the page they take things are out but they also put in things that are not there the most infamous example is dred scott the first case where it really eradicated from the original meaning. the supreme court said that white persons have the right to own black persons as slaves in the territories of the united states. that was guaranteed by the due process clause. stare at that clause as long as you want, it ain't their. they put it there. but here's a little secret. the politicians start exercising judgment they got it wrong of course. so for me original is a ms
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ms. recognizing nine old people in washington, i can say that now i just had a birthday. [laughter] we are never supposed to govern a continental nation 330 million americans. that is not what the framers had in mind. it is a republic and for you to keep. some critics of originalist them safe you cannot accommodate important supreme court decisions to segregate american schools can you explain how they are viewed as progressive like brown versus board has the originalist approach writing the article on brown versus board of education with the original meaning of the constitution but to me look at the 14th amendment that says equal protection of the laws.
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in over my fireplace in my office the first justice harlan there were two. the sold the center of plessy versus ferguson where he recognized segregation is not consistent with the original meaning of the constitution. is pretty tired and haggard. and it is not equal protection of the laws. equal protection is one of the most adequate and important guarantees that a it yields to take us back to the horse and buggy days i say rubbish look at the decisions from this term that i wrote if you want
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an original list on conservativism that is consuming the original meaning you betcha because the phone - - does that lead to political conservative? it doesn't at all. so the right to have cell phone data kept private the originalist might very well be more protected than a living constitutionalist. double jeopardy. ruth bader ginsburg and i were the only two dissenters this year in the case of double jeopardy. [applause] on originalist grounds. you have a right to confront your accusers at a trial the five / four decision upholding that right.
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is that liberal or conservative? i don't know but it is the sixth amendment. people have been selling us that line that i have a bridge i want to sell you. [laughter] >> in the book you discuss the first amendment as well as the spirit of original intent why do the founders believe press freedom was success one - - essential to success? >> i think they feel all of them i shouldn't pick or choose you may have your favorite. >> the first is high on the list. [laughter] >> i bet it is but my job is to protect all of your rights and not pick favorites. and now 230 years after the first amendment that the founders intent is being realized xp mechanically are doing a pretty good job the supreme court is not a bad institution. it is a fine institution made
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up of wonderful people. my colleagues are delightful. the rule of law is strong in this country. people like to focus on the troubles but sometimes we need to step back and not just focus on the forest but the trees. but there are 50 million lawsuits filed every year. that's called the american spirit. and 95 percent are resolved by a trial court without appeal. i was a lawyer a long time. i love being a lawyer you help people solve their problems
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that they accepted that is reasonably just they had their chance to have their say. but they listen to and that's powerful. with my own court of appeals of the tenth circuit and 20 percent of the continental united states, two time zones a credibly diverse court on any metric you want to take going back to all the way to president johnson we could reach unanimity. 95 percent of the time they were appeal. okay. so what about the supreme court? i said you realize we hear 70 cases a year?
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those are the hardest cases in the country and the lower courts have disagreed. that's why we take cases so people in california have the same rights and freedoms under our laws as people in new york. with that circuit split 70 cases out of 50 million. think about that. and now let's deal with the 70. there are nine of us. over 25 or 30 years from all across the country we continue to be well represented. [laughter]
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out of those 70 cases for our resolved unanimously did you ever hear about that? 40 percent. does that happen magically? know. we cannot get nine people agree to where to go to lunch. [laughter] but yet we could manage to reach unanimity through hard work and a little bit of fun along the way and i have some good stories i could share. i will share one in a minute. but what about the others? but since the second world war the only thing that's new is nothing is new for québec then president roosevelt appointed eight out of the nine justices.
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[laughter] we are an independent line of judges what about the others? let's talk about those five / 425 or 33 percent of the docket and that number has been consistent since the second world war. this last term there were ten different combinations of justices of five / four decisions so now you want a fun story. >> we love to hear about you and your colleagues on the court. >> i have a couple of good ones. >> what makes this place work is mutual respect and sometimes fun. we shake hands every time we
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meet this goes back to the 19th century tradition. we have lunch together not everybody but there's lunch in the lunch room during conference days and argument days which is a lot of days. we go out to dinner together like normal people and we have some fun traditions and we break tradition once in a while. justice sotomayor came in one day after the yankees had a good run and she had on a robe with pinstripes. [laughter] and the new york yankees emblem on her chest. [laughter] we are getting ready to walk out in the robe room and my colleagues are thinking will she walk out like that? and then somebody says are you
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really going to go out like that? and she says no but i was waiting for someone to ask. [laughter] >> we have a tradition of the junior justice to have dinner at the supreme court justice kagan through a fabulous dinner for me and louise. she knows that louise loves indian food and she happen to know a great indian chef and he came in and cooked up a storm. is fantastic. i had a tough row to help when justice kevin i came on board i have known him for 40 years. but we also knew he's a meat and potatoes kind of guy so
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the dinner would be pretty boring. so i have to do something in the entertainment department after dinner i asked everybody to please get up and come down to the great hall of the supreme court for entertainment and i suspect they were thinking a string quartet. justice kavanaugh is a huge baseball fan and the washington nationals are the presidents are the mascots with giant foam heads that are 12 feet tall and it's crazy. and my wonderful assistant jessica found out you can rent them. [laughter] so we hired two of them and then we walked into the great hall i had the chief justice i handed him a checkered flag and we had a race. i wasn't sure how that would go over. [laughter] but i figured it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission on that one.
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>> i cannot resist going back to 50 million cases being filed does that mean we have too many lawyers in america? >> actually talking about access to justice and i do worry when lawyers who graduate law school cannot afford their own services. they are way too expensive and it takes way too long to get to trial. you don't get a jury. and then look at how many criminal laws are on the books if they say anyone over the age of 18 everybody is done something to bake federal criminal law. i worry about access to justice. >> two very important subjects
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one is civility so your book reflects on new citizens of value shared by president reagan how does it shape your view on the subject as a husband of a naturalized citizen? >> 50 percent of americans would fail the naturalization exam my wife had to take. only 30 percent of millennial's think it's important to live in a democracy. and those like the presidential libraries trying to do something about civic understanding because i don't know how you run this government but when i talk to
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young people who say it's not important to live in a democracy and be a citizen of the world and i am with you 100 percent but if you tell me there is nothing special about the united states of america you have been bequeathed our republic i would ask you to think again. it's what we've been given with their constitution jefferson said if you expect ignorant people to maintain a republic you want something that never was in history and never will be. but republics are factual things with a checkered record
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in the court of history. already the longest live national written constitution in history. this isn't a criticism of anyon anyone. so yes we have our problems , i'm not here to tell you we don't but we also have a great gift. y'all have an obligation to make sure we all have a great gift endeavor responsibility that comes with that gift. >> in your book you know 70 percent of americans believe the country has a major civility problem. pull it - - putting aside
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politics, do you think that level waxes and wanes or is there something today that causes us to be uncivil like the internet? >> their institutions in our country that are incredibly civil indoor courts are one of those places. i gave an example of my own court. are republics supposed to be raucous? you batch up or go that's what makes a strong. the marketplace of ideas all voices can be heard. you we speak for a place you know you have a right to speak freely it is protected and recognized so this is a testament to the solidity of rule of law and we all know we have a first amendment right to speak.
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that's great. but if you ask me whether we all could you better come all of us, maybe just a bit. social media today i worry when young people say they are dissuaded from public service because of our culture and the way we converse with one another those who have been cyberbullied, 25 percent have thought about moving their kid from school because of it. i worry about civility. washington had a great example for us. he was forced to write out in hand 100 rules of civility the jesuits had written in 1595. they are full of good rules. some of them are funny my
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favorite is do not be so enthusiastic in your speech or comes so close with whom the person you are debating you can hit the other man's face with your spittle. [laughter] or say it don't spray it. but talking about manners there was a time we talked civics and civility was not a bad word. or considered timid. i think we have to remember those with whom we disagree to love this country every bit as much as we do i don't know if we have to go back to washington's rules the best i was taught was by louise's grandmother to say you will have a lot of regrets in your
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life. you will do a lot of things you wish you hadn't and say things you regret. things left unsaid and undone. but the one thing you will never regret is being kind. [applause] >> in your book you point out the importance of having good men and women pursuing public service and president reagan made no secret of his views on what has become the traditional confirmation process which has tactics that says better suited for campaigns and elections and supreme court nominations. do you think the process is working today the way the founders intended? >> you think i will touch that with a 10-foot pole? [laughter]
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i will not touch the confirmation process. i believe in judges sticking to their lane that is assigned to congress. i'm article three now. i'm happy to be back home. [laughter] [applause] but i will say to young people out there, take a look at people like david and janie. they are not afraid. don't be afraid. [applause] we need you we need your ideas. we need your participation. we need your help. somebody has to run the zoo. [laughter] why not you? and the words don't hurt that much if you know what you are
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doing is more important than yourself what life can you live that is more worthy than to carry on our great constitution in this wonderful republic? no better way to live a life. [applause] >> in your book you tribute to reagan appointees anthony scalia and anthony kennedy. can you share what you think are major elements of their legacies and the enduring legacy for the supreme court? >> starting with justice kennedy later i had the opportunity to become his calling the first time a justice and clerk ever had an opportunity to serve together. justice kennedy's legacy for me is what we have been talking about just now you are
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not meet a more courteous man that embodies all those professional values we seek today. he is a model of civility and a great teacher of civics and a prince of a man and a gentle man perk i will tell you a quick story about him. when i became his colleague he said i like to work at home. i don't get is one - - bothered as much there and the it office will help you set up an office. that's great. if you ask they will even give you a fax machine. [laughter] i was is law clerk 25 years earlier and i remember that fax machine. [laughter] when i wrote my first opinion for the court i did it after
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hours late in the day in the justice got wind i circulated and opinions we told is law clerk to use the fax machine and send it to him because he wanted to read it right then but the machine was broken. [laughter] so he had the law clerk drive it out to his house and i quickly got back a hand written note he first joined with my first opinion of the supreme court of the united states. that is anthony kennedy. now justice scalia. a lion of a man in public and also in private was so much to admire. fierce originalist. fearless and unapologetic and i'm happy to follow. while we agreed on many things the justice and i had our disagreements. he came out flyfishing in
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colorado with me one time. we have very different approaches. [laughter] i was suggest to the justice i have fish this river my whole life and i said if you walk over there and gently unfurl your line behind that rock you will catch a trout. well he is the son of queens and stomps over there. with all of the enthusiasm and slaps is line on the water as hard as he can with the end doozy as him to make the fish hungrier. [laughter] and then he says neil i thought you said there was a fish there. [laughter] as indeed there had been. [laughter] i have a wonderful reminder of
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justice scalia in my chambers. when he passed mrs. scalia was kind enough to give mementos to all the law clerks from things from his office at the end was a giant elk head that the justice had named lee roy that he had secured on a hunting trip in colorado. with one of my friends who was a former law clerk in our lawyer and she did not want lee roy in her house. [laughter] so she made the former law clerk pay to have it taken back to his house in colorado was sitting in a giant crate in his garage occupation - - occupying space. we were having lunch in the summer of 2016 and he said you know, if mister trump becomes president and if he nominates you, i have a gift for you.
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[laughter] and honestly i foolishly discounted that at zero i did not foresee and for six months later how the world works i get a call from mrs. scalia and said we are about to have the first scalia law kirk - - clerk reunion since my husband passed will you be my date for the night? of course. halfway through dinner my buddy with a big grin on his face rolls out a gigantic crate and presents me with leroy. [laughter] i'm very happy to have them watching down over my law clerks because we share a few things in common. we are both native coloradans. [laughter]
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we are both stuck in washington for the rest of our lives and neither one of us will ever forget antonin scalia. [applause] >> speaking of your former boss i once had the pleasure to have a supreme court tour he took me to the top floor to show me the basketball court which is above the supreme court chambers and is therefore known as the highest court in the land. [laughter] do you ever sneak away to shoot a few hoops during the day? >> i like to ride my bike and ski and row. like to do a lot of things. occasionally i will go up there and i have happy memories up there. my old boss byron white who is now largely forgotten but i
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like to remember him a little bit the first justice from colorado and their two special places i think of him and that is one of them. one of the great athletes of his day. road scholar, highest-paid nfl football player, leading rushe rusher, i don't think that will happen again with the supreme court. but he had a mean game of horse. we would go up there and play horse. i was younger he would elbow the law clerks and take them down. he had a shot from the free-throw line over the back of his head that he could nail nine times out of ten and he didn't mind taking your money when he did. [laughter] so i think of him down on the
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first floor we call the first floor but really it's a basement not a lot of windows and that's where they put you when you were gone they hang your portrait there. i vividly remember one day walking down with justice white and he said so justice he would call them justice to his clerks. how many of these old dogs do you recognize? and i thought about it and candidly i can identify about half. then he said something that shocked me and said me to. [laughter] and then he said something that depressed me at the time
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and that's the way it should be. and that's what will happen to me to. as a son of colorado i thought that was terrible and unbelievable. not only was he a star nfl player and rhodes scholar but a lawyer. he was one of jack kennedy's best friends and help to desegregate southern schools of bobby kennedy served on the supreme court 31 years how can anybody forget justice white? to walk those hallways now and a lot of tourist air at that portrait have no idea who they're looking at. but i think what he was telling me it was joyful the judge's role is quiet. it's upholding the constitution. not changing it. it's up to you if you want to do that.
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but to pass down to bequeath his wonderful legacy the joy of living a life greater then something yourself and that is what he was trying to teach me that day. so i think about that a lot when i walked to the court and the highest court. >> we are almost out of time but in your book you talk about how important your family is to you in fact your book is dedicated to your wife and daughters i'm the father of daughters. here is a question so when they have the occasional argument taking place between siblings, siblings, how do you render your judgment? [laughter] >> my jurisdiction does not extend that far. [laughter] [applause]
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>> speaking of young people we have young people here tonight if they say i'm interested in a future legal career which college major should i choose do you have any advice? >> find something you love. if you find something you love to do, work is work and you never work a day in your life or go my grandfathers taught me that. one was a surgeon who had grown up impoverished he would come home after surgery and get down on his knees and would pray for the patient he just had surgery on. he loved his work my other grandfather pulled himself up working on trolley cars in denver. both very humble beginnings he
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had his own law firm during the great depression now what is colorado boulevard to go down with his donkey on the dirt road great men. on whose shoulders i stand. and i say do what they did i follow their footsteps and find something you love and everything else will work out just fine. [applause] >> so this is corny but this speaks to young people i use to teach legal professionalism and ethics and that is not an oxymoron. [laughter] and along these lines at the end of the semester i would ask my kids to spend five minutes writing their obituary and how they would like it to
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read. they would snicker at the beginning. but after five minutes the room was always deadly quiet. they had really come to grips with the question. then i would ask a few brave souls to read out what they had written. and not one ever said i was the richest lawyer in town. or i had my name on the door or abroad in the most clients. fastest car or the biggest house. everyone spoke about being useful to their community and family and friends. some spoke of their faith. when i asked my students, it do me a favor and hold onto that and stick it in your desk drawe drawer. when you are feeling blue or have doubts about where your life is going, take a look at that. ask yourself you are doing on
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those metrics that really matter and i follow that same advice myself for go there is an inscription on a tombstone in boston that i found. a lawyer that is now forgotten a beautiful inscription about being dignified in public life and mild and affectionate and whole i keep that in my desk drawer and i printed it off and a copy of it is in the book. >> i wanted to ask you about your obituary. [laughter] but in closing in decades from now when historians write about your tenure what do you hope they will say? to make very little and that is as it should be. keeping our constitution we
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need the great men to found it in the great men to keep it. and love this country to keep for the next generation then i have done my job just right. [applause] >> thank you for this credible incredible opportunity and thank you for putting together this incredible book which those of us who barely made it through law school find it to be quite useful and even more for those want have a great understanding of the constitution. thank you. [applause]
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