Justice Thomas Speaks for 1st Time Since 2006
He appeared to have been making a joke
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2013 3:00 PM CST
Seated from left are Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – Justice Clarence Thomas did something at a Supreme Court argument today for the first time in nearly seven years—he spoke. But what Thomas said is not clear; he appears to have joked about Ivy League lawyers. The argument transcript only records four 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. The Wall Street Journal reports that witnesses heard him say something along the lines of, "Well, he did not have competent counsel, then." Thomas hasn't asked a question in court since February 22, 2006.

View 2 more images

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Justice Thomas Speaks for 1st Time Since 2006 is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 19 comments
Jan 15, 2013 2:07 PM CST
The Liberal tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for others that is displayed in the majority of these comments is such so refreshing. Way to represent your purported ideology you racist assholes.
Jan 15, 2013 9:44 AM CST
Thomas is an idiot.
Jan 15, 2013 8:42 AM CST
I'm always surprised that people interpret Justice Thomas's quiet at oral argument as a sign of a lack of intellectual curiosity or, worse, stupidity. It seems fairly rare that questions at oral argument generate anything that throws serious light on the appropriate resolution of a case. And the more meandering, obscure questions (Justice Breyer) or silly remarks (Justice Scalia) there are, the less likely those enlightening moments will happen at all. Justice Thomas has said that he thinks his colleagues ask too many questions as it is. I think that often he is right. Also, while I disagree with most of Justice Thomas's constitutional views, it is wrong to call him a Scalia clone. Often, it has been Justice Scalia who has joined Justice Thomas's opinions (presumably after being convinced by him), not the other way around. And on other questions, Justice Thomas holds views that are quite unique on the Court (even though I usually think them wrong). This is not a sign of a lack of creativity or intellectual rigor. Quite the opposite.