Barton and the greater Wilson community joined together on Monday, Sept. 18, to celebrate Constitution Day with a lecture by the Honorable Albert S. Thomas, Jr., following a reception.
Upwards of 40 students, faculty, staff and citizens attended the event, hosted annually by the Hackney Library.
This year’s lecture was entitled, “The United States Constitution: Why the Debate Will Never End.”
Usually held on Sept. 17, to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, this year’s celebration was pushed to the following Monday. Nevertheless, civic enthusiasm remained high for those who were present.
Judge Thomas, a former N.C. Court of Appeals judge who is in private practice in Wilson, gave an entertaining oration concerning the Supreme Court and how it views its own role in determining law, providing historical developments alongside contemporary opinions.
Thomas, a native Wilsonian and graduate of Fike High School, served as a district court judge for more than 16 years from 1980-1996, for five years as chief district court judge from 1996-2001, and was appointed by Gov. James B. Hunt to serve on the Court of Appeals from 2001-2002.
He holds both a bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees from the UNC-Chapel Hill. Thomas is an adjunct professor at Barton.
A familiar presence in criminal justice classrooms at Barton, Thomas had students from his criminal law class present short biographies of Supreme Court Justices.
Thomas also showed a video clip of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer discuss the differences between how justices view the Constitution. Scalia said he sought to interpret the Constitution as the framers meant while Breyer said that he seeks to interpret in light of how society has evolved.
The lecture then concluded with an opportunity for the public to ask questions. But not before the Judge could sport a t-shirt bearing the likeness of “Notorious RBG” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a moment of comic relief. He told the audience that his daughter is in law school at UNC and that she requested he wear and display the shirt.
By Andrew Hall