Clarence Thomas shocked many U.S. Supreme Court observers today when he uttered his first phrase during oral arguments in nearly seven years.Still, Thomas wasn’t actually asking a question.
The transcript doesn’t capture his entire sentence, but reports have indicated he spoke up to mock his alma mater Yale Law School.
There may be a reason why Thomas is loath to ask questions.
The Supreme Court’s most silent justice spoke at an event in Charlotte, N.C. over the summer, revealing that he would do away with oral arguments if he could change anything about the Supreme Court process, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Thomas spoke at the unveiling of a portrait of David Sentelle, who’s a chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and an ex-Charlotte resident.
“In Judge Sentelle I discerned a fellow displaced Southerner,” said Thomas, a Georgia native, according to the Observer.
Thomas has defended his years-long stint of silence, pointing to his Southern background as a possible explanation, according to an April report by the Associated Press.
“I don’t see where that advances anything,” Thomas said at a speech in April, referring to asking questions. “Maybe it’s the Southerner in me. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, I don’t know. I think that when somebody’s talking, somebody ought to listen.”
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