Justice Clarence Thomas, Lengthy Silent, Has Turned Talkative

“His questions are clear, truthful and centered on resolving the guts of the dispute earlier than the court docket, not tangential points,” Mr. Garre mentioned. “Typically, his questions have a sensible factor to them, testing the real-world ramifications of a celebration’s place. He’s not attempting to set traps or debate educational points.”

Mr. Garre mentioned Justice Thomas’s questions at the court docket’s first telephone argument, over whether or not Reserving.com might trademark its title, refocused the court docket with a wise analogy. The justice requested how an web area title differed from a 1-800 telephone quantity, noting that 1-800-PLUMBING is a registered trademark.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer pursued the purpose, and Reserving.com prevailed, in Justice Ginsburg’s final majority opinion.

Justice Thomas has defined his silence within the courtroom as a matter of straightforward courtesy pushed by an aversion to the free-for-all barrage of questions from the bench that characterizes fashionable Supreme Court docket arguments.

“I believe it’s pointless in deciding circumstances to ask that many questions, and I don’t suppose it’s useful,” he mentioned at Harvard Regulation Faculty in 2013. “I believe we should always hearken to attorneys who’re arguing their circumstances, and I believe we should always enable the advocates to advocate.”

“We appear like ‘Household Feud,’” Justice Thomas instructed a bar group in 2000.

Over time, he has given different explanations for maintaining quiet.

In his 2007 memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,” he wrote that he had by no means requested questions in school or legislation college and that he had been intimidated by a few of his fellow college students.

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