By DENAE D'ARCY6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - One thousand University of Tennessee law students got a rare treat Friday when they attended a talk by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
During the speech there was more laughter than serious discussion, and more questions and answers than a lecture-style talk.
Thomas seemed to make a good impression, and some students said they were surprised by the positive aspects of his main message.
"I was more surprised by his delivery. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a lecture, but it seemed more just having a conversation with 1,000 people," Ashley Vandevender said.
Thomas spent much of the speech promoting idealism.
"I think it's amazing to hear that kind of message, particularly at one of the most senior levels of the government. It's also very encouraging for us as young attorneys," William Perry said.
Not all the students agreed with a rosy outlook, however.
"I think idealism can pose a problem because we have two opposing parties and they think all the other ideals are wrong," Ellison Berryhill said.
There were tough questions from students about the demographics of justices, regrets on decisions and death penalty cases.
"In the end, you sit in front of the fire by yourself. You pace the floor in the death cases alone with yourself and your thoughts," Justice Thomas said.
The Supreme Court justice closed by explaining his role. He said he interprets the Constitution to the best of his ability, at all costs.
Thomas also told the crowd that all the justices are kind and warm to one another. In his 20 terms, he said he's never heard his colleagues utter an unkind word.