When it comes to pontificating, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is much like his peers. He reads his opinions from the bench, and he makes pubic speeches when the court is not in session.
But for 10 years, Thomas did not say a mumbling word during oral arguments before the high court, even though peppering litigants with questions is expected by the Supremes. Thomas, however, remained as silent as the observers in the courtroom gallery.
Thomas offered a couple of reasons for his muteness: Why bother since he could argue with the other justices in chambers, and he didn’t like to “badger people” during oral arguments.
Then, a minor miracle occurred this leap year. On Feb. 29, Thomas’s lips were liberated. He asked questions during oral arguments for the first time since Feb. 22, 2006.
The event that turned Thomas into a chatterbox from the bench was the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13. Suddenly, Thomas was unburdened by the dominating presence of Scalia, his ideological bro and fellow Catholic who sat next to him during Supreme Court sessions.
While court observers were rightfully shocked, all of us should have seen this coming. After all, Thomas was the only member of the court who spoke at the Mass celebrating Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine. Apparently, that was warm-up for the verbosity that came from the bench 16 days later.
How ironic. Thomas has little use for affirmative action, liberals, civil rights dogma, or black people. For him, the Great Emancipator is a dead Italian.