Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who once said his Yale Law School diploma was worth 15 cents, visited his alma mater’s New Haven campus on Dec. 14. But all his stops on the visit appeared to be private, and the law school’s own Web site was virtually silent on the subject of Thomas’s trip.

As such, it does not appear to be the sort of “official visit” that law schools usually trumpet when a Supreme Court justice is on campus.

Thomas had visits scheduled with the Federalist Society chapter at Yale, as well as the Black Law Students Association. according to a memorandum from Dean Robert Post to Yale students. (Hat tip to Above the Law.) Both organizations have been inviting Thomas to visit for “several years,” Post stated. Post is also hosting a private faculty reception for Thomas. “There are no plans for a public forum” featuring Thomas, Post told students.

Thomas, a member of the class of 1974, has long expressed hostility toward Yale. In his 2007 memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, Thomas said he experienced subtle racism at the school, and felt he was viewed as an affirmative action admittee less deserving than others of a Yale degree. Because of that stigma, Thomas said he had stored the diploma in his basement, and attached a 15 cent cigar price tag to it.

When Thomas’s book was published, then-dean Harold Koh said he had met with Thomas at the Court and asked him to sit for a portrait to be hung at the school. He also said Thomas had spoken of fond memories of his time at Yale.

The justice’s visit did not appear to represent a full embrace of his alma mater, but former New York Times Court reporter Linda Greenhouse said, “It may be a first step toward a better relationship with the school.”

Greenhouse, who now teaches at the law school, said she is meeting with members of the black law student group in a public forum tonight after their session with Thomas.

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