It was widely reported that between 2004 and 2008, Justice Stephen Breyer spoke 35,000 words from the bench. Justice Clarence Thomas uttered precisely zero.
It’s not shyness that’s keeping him quiet. In a recent talk to students at the University of Alabama, Thomas said the justices generally know where the others stand before oral arguments and if they want to share their views, oral arguments are not the place to do it.
“All nine of us are in the same building,” he said. “If we want to sway each other we know where we are. We don’t need oral arguments to do that. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Thomas said, according to an AP report.
Thomas did not name names, apparently, but the AP points out that Thomas’s fellow conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is “generally considered the court’s most aggressive questioner during oral arguments.”
Notoriously anti-affirmative action, Thomas also feels the Court is too Ivy and stressed a need for regional diversity. “My goal is to have a court that is fair, and I think it’s fair when we are fair in selecting people from all parts of the country, from all walks of life,” Thomas, a Yale law grad, said.
Thomas has a 15 cent price tag on his Yale degree.
Even though Thomas thinks his fellow justices talk too much, he does not appear to hold grudges over it. Thomas may not question the lawyers arguing the case, but he’s been known to chat, laugh and pass notes with the more liberal Justice Breyer.
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