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Monday, June 24, 2024

SCOTUS associate justice speaks to UF law students

A bomb-sniffing dog searched Stephany Ashton’s class Wednesday morning, and she was asked to hand over her cell phone.

These safety measures were taken because Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas gave a guest lecture.

“I thought we weren’t going to see him at all,” the 23-year-old first-year UF law student said.

Thomas spoke to students taking classes in property law and the U.S. Constitution at UF’s Levin College of Law this week, said Danaya Wright, a UF law professor. Having Thomas speak was years in the making.

The blizzard this week delayed Thomas’ arrival, but he got to UF on Tuesday, she said. While students didn’t know Thomas was coming, faculty did.

“That was really fun, to have students be surprised by a justice of the Supreme Court,” she said.

Before his arrival, Wright had her students review a Supreme Court case where Thomas opposed the majority decision.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with any Supreme Court justice,” she said.

For Ashton, listening to Thomas joke about his everyday life reminded her of some of her own family members.

“He kind of reminds you of someone’s grandfather,” she said.

During Thomas’ lecture, Kara Solebello, 25, counter-argued another student’s argument before Thomas stepped in.

“The justice challenged me on it,” the first-year UF law student said, but she couldn’t come up with a response. After a few seconds, she said Thomas laughed it off.

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“It’s probably the best moment of my life,” Solebello said. “I’ll probably put it on my resume.”

Contact Melissa Gomez at and follow her on Twitter @MelissaGomez004

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