A week from Tuesday, when the Supreme Court returns from its midwinter break and hears arguments in two criminal cases, it will have been five years since Justice Clarence Thomas has spoken during a court argument.
If he is true to form, Justice Thomas will spend the arguments as he always does: leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, rubbing his eyes, whispering to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, consulting papers and looking a little irritated and a little bored. He will ask no questions.
It’s easy to make jokes about Clarence Thomas’ complete silence during oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
But this article on the fifth anniversary of Thomas’ silence actually takes a thoughtful look at what Thomas has said in the past about his reasons for keeping quiet. There are several possibilities and they’re all interesting, whatever you happen to think about Thomas personally or professionally.