Blog

Honoring the Legacy of Fletcher Thompson

In honor of Fletcher Thompson’s 94th birthday, we would like to tell a story.

 

In November 1961, then Solicitor General of the United States (and later Watergate special prosecutor) Archibald Cox, moved for the admission of Fletcher D. Thompson to join the United States Supreme Court Bar. Later that day, following his admission, Fletcher was congratulated by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Nearly forty years later, on October 19, 2009, Fletcher returned to the Supreme Court, this time with a reversal of his role—Fletcher had the privilege of standing before the Court to present his daughter, Becky, and his son, Jim, for admission.

Jim tells the story:

 

As we waited in the Great Hall before entering the Courtroom, the Chief Justice’s secretary came to greet us and whispered to Becky, “The Chief wants to see you and your family.” Plucking us out of line, we were escorted through a labyrinth of doors and marble hallways, until we reached the chambers of the Chief Justice. You see, before his appointment to the highest Court, Becky had worked with the Chief Justice when he was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Sure enough, Chief Justice John Roberts welcomed us into his chambers for a chat before the Court convened. The Chief sat in a chair, next to a fireplace that crackled as it burned real logs (no gas logs for The Chief). We were seated on a long black leather sofa, which he explained had previously resided in the Speaker’s Room inside the United States Capitol. It had been on that sofa on February 23, 1848, that former President and then Congressman John Quincy Adams died after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage and collapsing in the House of Representatives.

Fletcher wondered aloud, “Well, maybe I better stand.”

 

Chuckling, Chief Justice Roberts clearly enjoyed sharing this bit of history, dating back to the era when the Supreme Court met in the Capitol building.

And Fletcher couldn’t resist some history of his own. As we prepared to leave, he commented to the Chief Justice, “You know, the last time I was here, Earl Warren had your job.”

A few minutes later, the Justices took the Bench as the Court was called into session. And our dad stepped to the lectern for our formal introduction, beginning with the traditional: “Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court . . .”

Fletcher Thompson (left) with son, James Fletcher Thompson (right) appearing in Anderson County family court on August 28th, 2015.