WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas did something at a Supreme Court argument Monday for the first time in nearly seven years – he spoke.
But what Thomas said is not clear, other than he appears to have joked about Ivy League lawyers.
The argument transcript only records a few words. It quotes Thomas as saying, “Well, he did not…” Several justices laughed in response.
Louisiana lawyer Carla Sigler replied: “I would refute that, Justice Thomas.”
Two lawyers in the courtroom said Thomas was joking about Ivy League law school graduates, although one said it was at the expense of Thomas’ alma mater, Yale, and the other said rival Harvard was the butt of the joke.
Thomas hasn’t asked a question in court since February 22, 2006. The Washington Post reported though that Thomas has previously said that he thinks fellow justices spend too much time questioning lawyers.
“I think it’s an opportunity for the advocate, the lawyers, to fill in the blanks, to make their case,” the Post recalled Thomas saying in a 2009 interview with C-SPAN. “I think you should allow people to complete their answers and their thought, and to continue their conversation. I find that coherence that you get from a conversation far more helpful than the rapid-fire questions.”
The Huffington Posted noted Thomas’ comment Monday came during the oral argument by the state of Louisiana and why it has for the past five years failed to fund a lawyer for a man facing the death penalty. The state said that this does not undermine the man in the murder case’s right to a speedy trial.