TFAS was honored to have Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Supreme Court deliver remarks at its Defending Freedom Luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.
Justice Gorsuch spoke on the dual importance of teaching civics and encouraging habits of civility in our next generation of leaders. Remarking on the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedoms, Justice Gorsuch reminded attendees that these rights come with responsibility and a duty. “In a government by and for the people, we have to remember that those with whom we disagree even vehemently still have the best interests of the country at heart,” he said. “We have to remember that democracy depends on our ability to reason and work with those who hold very different views than our own. We have to learn not only to tolerate different points of view but to cherish the din of democracy.”
The luncheon was part of The Fund for American Studies’ 50th anniversary celebration and was highlighted by testimonials from TFAS alumni who have risen from outstanding TFAS students to respected professionals defending freedom in their various fields. For 50 years, TFAS programs have taught American principles of limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership to nearly 17,000 students and young professionals in America and around the world.
Prior to Justice Gorsuch taking the stage, TFAS Alumnus – The Honorable Clint Bolick (ICPES 78), associate justice of Arizona Supreme Court – told the story of how a summer with TFAS set him on a path toward a career in constitutional law.
“The Fund for American Studies is about human capital,” said Justice Bolick. “My experience in the summer of 1978 was foundational and transformational. I came to our nation’s capital committed to a career in politics and convinced that I was irredeemably ignorant of economics.” However, after a summer of interning on Capitol Hill and taking economics with beloved TFAS Professor, Dr. George Viksnins, Justice Bolick said his belief in free-market economics was strengthened and his entire perspective altered. He decided to shift his focus from politics and “its endless shades of grey,” and instead pursued a career in constitutional law – a decision he reported to never regret, not even for a second.
Bolick was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court by Governor Doug Ducey in January 2016. Prior to joining the court, Justice Bolick litigated constitutional cases in state and federal courts from coast to coast, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Among other positions, he served as vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute and as co-founder and vice president for litigation at the Institute for Justice.
In 2003, the TFAS Alumni Council chose Bolick as the inaugural recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his exceptional accomplishments.
In remarks on his fellow alumni, Justice Bolick thanked TFAS for investing in young people and providing them with the tools necessary to make a difference in the world. “Whenever I encounter TFAS alumni, I know they have not only experienced outstanding internships, classes and lectures, but that they have also been exposed – possibly for the first or only time in their lives – to the idea of American exceptionalism. They understand the conditions that not only produced our national greatness, but are necessary to sustain it.”
TFAS Alumna Mary Elizabeth Taylor (IBGA 10, PPF 12-13) also spoke about her TFAS experience as a student and Public Policy Fellow before introducing her friend Justice Gorsuch. She said, “One facet that really shines brightly for me and my TFAS experience is the feeling of learning something new, in a fresh atmosphere with new faces, new people and new minds … Being thrust into a group of people that I didn’t know, that I had never learned with or worked with and having really tough discussions – that really struck me and I have seen that play out throughout my entire career.”
Also providing remarks were TFAS alumni David M. Stover (ICPES 77) of the John William Pope Foundation and Randall Seeger (IBGA 15), a student at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76), himself an alumnus, noted that by preparing students for leadership and teaching the moral, political and economic ideas that hold society together and promote human flourishing, TFAS is contributing to building a brighter future.
In closing, Justice Gorsuch recognized the blessings of liberty that surround us in our everyday lives. “We may not notice it every day,” he said. “But what the Constitution calls our blessings of liberty are everywhere about us. They are what allow over 300 million Americans to go about their daily lives under the rule of law.”