Clarence Thomas breaks 10 years of silence at Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas breaks 10 years of silence at Supreme Court

The case, Voisine v. USA focuses on lower court convictions of Stephen L. Voisine and William E. Armstrong for firearms possession after they had been convicted of simple assaults, and questions the court if a non-violent case of reckless behavior without intent qualifies as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" under federal law, thus barring them from firearms possession.

Justice Thomas shocked court watchers by asking several questions during a case before the Supreme Court today. He asked the lawyer whether the gun ban was permanent and questioned whether it was defensible when the misdemeanor didn't involve the use of a firearm.

Without Scalia, Thomas may believe the court lacks a strong voice in favor of the 2nd Amendment. BREAKING NEWS, indeed! But the opposite is largely true when it comes to Clarence Thomas, who "some ... say ... is neglecting his duties as a justice" by working diligently and maintaining a dignified silence.

epa05172755 Justice Clarence Thomas, left, passes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, following Holy Communion during the funeral Mass for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, USA, 20 February 2016. One of Scalia's roles on the bench was to play ideological bad-cop-when a lawyer transgressed against conservative orthodoxy, Scalia would often step in with an aggressive, even intimidating, question. Indeed, until this week, Thomas had not asked a question during oral arguments since 2006.

In any event, Thomas continued to press Eisenstein for several pages of the argument transcript.

Justice Thomas succinctly explained, "I think there are far too many questions". But he broke his silence this morning on a case about domestic violence convictions and gun rights.

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Indeed, just last week, CNN marked the 10th anniversary of the last time Mr Thomas asked a question during oral arguments.

Eisenstein noted that violating other laws can, in some cases, limit a person's free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

"The suspension is not directly related to the use of a weapon?"

MS. EISENSTEIN: Your Honor, the right is suspended indefinitely.

In Monday's second argument, on in a case about judicial recusals, Thomas was again quiet. Realizing the weakness of her argument, the government lawyer finally took the position that the question was not raised by the parties and therefore was not truly before the Court. Marshall and Thomas are the only two African Americans to serve on the nation's highest court.