Justice Clarence Thomas stuns; breaks 10-year silence on the bench

For the first time in a decade, Justice Clarence Thomas asked questions during an oral argument at the Supreme Court Monday.

Surprising those present in the courtroom, which was in its second week of hearing arguments since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas broke a 10-year silence asking a question on a case dealing with gun ownership.

After nearly an hour of responding to other justices’ questions on the case related to a federal law that bans owning guns for people convicted of domestic violence, Justice Department lawyer Ilana Eisenstein was startled by Thomas’ voice, reported CBS News.

The justice, asking whether the violation of any other law “suspends a constitutional right,” continued to ask questions dealing with the Second Amendment and gun rights, a subject none of the other justices had discussed.

Thomas last asked questions in court on Feb. 22, 2006, his unusual silence over the years being seen as both peculiar and the source of criticism. He has defended his silence by saying he relies on written briefs and doesn’t find it necessary to ask questions in court.

Breaking the 10-year record came just days after Scalia’s death on Feb. 13. Thomas sat to the right of his fellow conservative and friend for years; Scalia’s chair in the court was draped in black, reported CBS.


Frieda Powers


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