The Dick Thornburgh Papers

The collection

Ongoing Career  (1993-)

Extent: 59.5 linear feet

Following his sojourn at the United Nations, at the end of February 1993, Dick Thornburgh returned to Washington, his twenty-five year career in public office at an end, and ready for what he termed a role as "useful citizen."

The quest of a new baseball commissioner came his way in May 1993, and friends who knew of his long-standing love of baseball encouraged his interest. Although he survived several cuts, his final contribution to the matter was an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, in August 1994. Meanwhile, after scrutiny of alternatives, he decided to return, once again, to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart as counsel in their Washington Office. That role has enabled Thornburgh to devote over half his time to clients, and yet retain the opportunity to pursue other outside interests developed over the years.

These interests have been many and varied, most of which are well documented in these files and frequently draw on Thornburgh's previous experience, both in government generally and at the United Nations in particular. A major topic, for example, has been the rule of law in developing countries and others emerging from Soviet domination. "If these nations were to see more democracy, respect for human rights and market-oriented economies ... the rule of law was an absolute sine qua non. Without it, free elections, corruption-free government and due process would be impossible ... Thus I became a veritable missionary for the rule of law" ( Evidence, p. 336). The section here on foreign trips includes visits to Taiwan, Russia, and several to Hong Kong, all regarding the rule of law. Other trips to Guatemala (regarding governmental corruption), to Nigeria (regarding federalism, interstate relations and other governance issues), to Buenos Aires (on fighting corruption), are well documented here as well. In addition, other trips abroad concern his continued dedication to the rights of persons with disabilities, particularly in a return trip to Korea where Thornburgh and his wife, Ginny, discussed issues of religion and disability. "Our visit left us feeling that Korea had a long way to go in affording dignity to its citizens with disability, but we were heartened that so many people of goodwill, particularly within the religious communities, were trying to meet those challenges" ( Evidence, p. 346).

Other challenges presented themselves, for example, examination of World Bank's "mechanisms to deal with fraud and corruption connected with its lending" ( Evidence, p. 347), and involvement with civil justice reform, growing out of a report on the subject prepared by the Department of Justice in 1991 for the President's Council on Competitiveness. Thornburgh's interest in science and technology which dated back to the Ben Franklin Partnership of Governor days further took center stage from early to mid 1990s, and concern about product liability and caps on punitive damages are well expressed in his op-eds on the subject, all of which are available here online.







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