Justice Thomas poses questions, stuns Supreme Court crowd

Justice Thomas poses questions, stuns Supreme Court crowd

But toward the end of arguments on Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas broke his decade-long silence on the bench to speak up for gun rights.

When discussing ways the statute might be overly broad with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, Eisenstein received a question from an unlikely source: Justice Thomas.

His comments, which surprised courtroom observers and then held them rapt, focused on Thomas' concern that people convicted of domestic-violence misdemeanors could permanently lose the right to own a firearm.

Monday marked only the second week the nation's highest court has heard arguments since Justice Scalia's death.

However, one possible reason could have been that the subject matter at hand, the Second Amendment, moved the conservative justice to fire off several questions at the lawyer for the United States government, Ilana Eisenstein.

"It is possible that Thomas was asking a question that he thought Scalia might have brought up", said Severino. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she will miss his "eminently quotable opinions". “If there are no further questions, ” she said. And the American people will discover that - indeed - no other constitutional right secured by the Bill of Rights to all Americans can be taken away from any person for having been convicted of a crime.

Thomas, 67, had not asked a question during oral arguments since February 22, 2006, when he made queries during a SC death penalty case. It suspends a constitutional right. He asked her whether she could provide any other example of a constitutional right being suspended based on a misdemeanor.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas testifies during a hearing before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee
Justice Thomas poses questions, stuns Supreme Court crowd

CBS News reports that Thomas also wanted Eisenstein to confirm whether the loss of Second Amendment rights was being pursued for misdemeanors in which a weapon was not necessarily used.

None of the other justices visibly reacted to Thomas' remarks.

Thomas actually passed the 10-year mark of silence during oral arguments earlier in the month.

In 2012, he told CNN's Piers Morgan that when he was a young lawyer he appeared before the justices as an advocate and was only asked two questions.

Scalia defended his colleague's silence, and asked enough questions for the both of them. In his 2007 memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son, ” he wrote that he had never asked questions in college or law school and that he had been intimidated by some of his fellow students. "I think we should listen to lawyers who are arguing the cases". "And I think it would be a major question".

In Monday’s second argument, on judicial recusals, Justice Thomas was again quiet.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

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