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I was amazed to read recently that United States Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas hasn’t spoken at a Supreme Court hearing in over five years. He apparently will sit there, look at the ceiling , and whisper to fellow Justices. I can’t understand that.

The reason behind appeal court oral arguments is the chance for judges to ask questions about the issues and to clarify issues that weren’t covered in the written briefs. Sometimes, to get a point across to the arguing party.

It makes you wonder if his mind is already made up. Or maybe he simply doesn’t care. I know that he has written opinions, and you would assume that he has to care about those. Although, according to what has been written about Supreme Court procedure he wouldn’t know he was writing until after the vote and the assignment by the Chief Judge or the highest judge with seniority on the side of the most votes.

The story suggests that he may not like the way he sounds. I guess that would make you not want to do your job like everyone else has forever. But, that wouldn’t explain how he still gives speeches around the country.

This just doesn’t sound like a person doing their job. Now I haven’t thought much of his opinions, so his retirement won’t be met with any sorrow by me. I remember testifying against his nomination at the State Capitol when I was chair of the Young Democrats a very long time ago. I guess I didn’t have to say anything.


  1. Gravatar for Ken Tracht

    Some people are not audio oriented and pick up more information from reading than from hearing. Oral arguments are generally only a display of an ability to think on your feet. Seldom do the elicit new ideas, and even when they do there is the written record. Verbal jousting is a skill some enjoy but it doesn't necessarily correlate with an ability to think clearly. Read Justice Thomas's opinions or listen to one of his speeches and there is no doubt Thomas has a clear and well thought out view of the law in its role in society.

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