ustice Clarence Thomas is notorious for being the most taciturn member of the Supreme Court. For seven years, he has refused to speak at oral arguments, which often showcase spirited exchanges between lawyers and the eight other justices. Thomas once dismissed the exercise as beneath the court's dignity. "We look like Family Feud," he told a bar association in Richmond, Va.
That's why it came as a surprise when Thomas broke his seven-year reign of silence on Monday, in response to a question over a lawyer's competence. And what did Thomas say after keeping his thoughts to himself for all these years? Well, perhaps his utterance was too much of a surprise for court watchers, for no one caught what he said. It went down like this, according to Mike Sacks at The Huffington Post:
Before Thomas spoke in Boyer v. Louisiana, Justice Antonin Scalia was asking the state's attorney about the competency and experience of the lawyers for the capital defendant, Jonathan Edward Boyer. After learning that the lawyers went to Harvard and Yale law schools, Scalia said, "Son of a gun." Then Thomas spoke.
According to the transcript, he said, "Well — he did not —," followed by laughter. Louisiana's lawyer then responded, "I would refute that, Justice Thomas." [Huffington Post]
"He did not"…what? And what was so hilarious? Some educated guessers say Thomas, a Yale graduate, was poking fun at his alma mater and Ivy League schools in general. But it looks like Thomas' exact words will be lost to posterity.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2014
- This energy source could solve all of our problems — so why is no one talking about it?
Subscribe to the Week