Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the 2016 graduating class at Hillsdale College in Michigan, telling the graduates to lead by example and to not hide their faith and beliefs.

Thomas, 67, appointed to the Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush, gave the commencement address to 353 Hillsdale graduates.    

Here are 15 quotes from Thomas’ speech:

  1. “As you go through life, try to be that person whose actions teach others how to be better as people and better citizens.”
  2. “Stand up for others when they’re being treated unfairly in small things and large.”
  3. “Take the time to listen to that friend who’s having a difficult time.”
  4. Much that seemed inconceivable is now firmly or universally established,” Thomas said. “Hallmarks of my youth, such as patriotism and religion, seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts. So in a sense I feel out of place doing this or any commencement. My words will perhaps be more of a vintage nature than current in context.” (via
  5. “Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness,” Thomas said. (Via
  6. “Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you stood in their shoes.”
  7. These small lessons become the unplanned syllabus for becoming a good citizen. Your efforts to live them will help to form the fabric of a civil society, and a free and prosperous nation where inherent equality and liberty are invaluable.”
  8. “I am of a different time. Today there is much more focus on our rights as citizens and what we are owed, it is not often that one hears of our obligations or duties as citizens.”
  9. “At risk of understating what is necessary to preserve liberty in our form of government, I think more and more it depends on good citizens discharging their daily duties and obligations,” Thomas said, according to Hillsdale student Breana Noble’s reporting for The College Fix. “Sadly, today it seems as though grievances rather than personal conduct are the means of elevation.”
  10. “We were taught that despite unfair treatment, we were to be good citizens and good people,” he said. “If we were to have a functioning neighborhood, we have to first be good neighbors. And if we were to have a good city, state, and country, we had to first be good citizens.”
  11. Apparently, we all deserve the same reward, the same status notwithstanding the difference in our efforts or our abilities. It is no wonder, then, that we hear of what is deserved or what one is entitled to.”
  12. “If we are not making deposits to replenish our liberties, then who is? Are we content to let others do the work?”
  13. “Today, we rarely hear of our personal responsibilities in discussions of broad notions such as freedom or liberty.” (via Fox News)
  14. “I have every faith that you will be the beacon of light for others to follow, that city on a hill that cannot be hidden.”

This piece has been updated to remove a quote that was originally incorrectly attributed to Justice Thomas