Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the most senior and most conservative justices of the Supreme Court, has been accused of being “disengaged” and even “derelict in his duties” due to his much talked about silence during oral arguments.
Thomas is the most silent justice in modern history – in fact, he went the entire decade from 2006-2016 without asking a single question. Every time he does ask one, it makes headlines across the nation.
So observers of the court were stunned, when, on a telephone oral argument during the lockdown, Thomas actively participated in the questioning. Did the coronavirus pandemic cause Justice Thomas to change his character?
Writing for the Hill, two legal scholars concluded that:
In the serene setting of argument by phone, a new system of careful turn-taking overseen by the Chief Justice replaced the rowdy free-for-all that sometimes characterizes the Court’s oral arguments. And in that more orderly, decorous format, Justice Thomas not only participated, but did so in ways that were thoughtful and helpful.
This week’s telephone arguments have allowed Thomas to participate without butting in, to engage the dynamic of the full bench without drama and to pose short questions that get to the point without pushing anyone aside for airtime.
Justice Thomas is not only a brilliant legal mind, but also a gentleman whose kindness, courtesy and sense of decency is unparalleled.
His decency puts the lie to all the slanders peddled by the left against him – and is a contrast with the creepiness of his long-time nemesis, Joe Biden.
We wish Justice Thomas the best of health and a long career to come.