January 14, 2013

After 7 years of not speaking during oral argument, Clarence Thomas spoke...

... and whatever he said was drowned out by the laughter of those in the room. 

Apparently, it was some kind of joke about what a Yale law degree connotes. We know how he feels about his law degree. Here's what I wrote back in 2007 when he gave an interview to "60 Minutes":
"I was never a liberal. I was radical," he says, talking about how difficult it was for him to go to work for a Republican after he graduated from Yale Law School. His Yale Law degree was worth almost nothing, he says. Though he graduated in the middle of his class, he couldn't get a job, and he was enraged to see that the degree meant one thing for whites and another for blacks. Everyone assumed he got into Yale because he was black, and not because he had grown up in severe hardship, and yet had always done well in every environment -- from all black to all white.
ADDED: According to the NYT, Thomas leaned over to the microphone and uttered a remark that the stenographer captured as "Well – he did not —." Laughter is noted. The topic at the time was the definition of constitutionally adequate counsel, and Justice Scalia had just noted that one lawyer had gone to Yale Law School and another to Harvard. Supposedly, according to some people who were in the courtroom, Thomas said something that meant that a law degree from Yale could be proof of incompetence.
[Thomas has] complained about the difficulty of getting a word in edgewise on an exceptionally voluble bench. The garbled transcript offers some support for that final rationale.
Indeed. On the other hand, the intense interest we're all showing now might encourage him. Say anything at all and it will be big news.

17 comments:

McTriumph said...

I love the comments over at Slate, it's pornographic, liberals fellating each other.

edutcher said...

Notice only class warfare is something you associate with the Left, never class.

Fandor said...

LIBERALS are HYPOCRITES! We need to confront them EVERY TIME they disparage good people.

Fandor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wyo sis said...

No one knows for sure what he said, but somehow it's scandalous.

phx said...

I love the comments over at Slate, it's pornographic, liberals fellating each other.

You don't think conservatives do that here?

AprilApple said...

Why do leftwingers resent it so much when blacks are successful?

Tom said...

Clarence Thomas has done the nation a great service through his judicial writings. Though he is often in disent, and even in concurrence, he has created a foundation upon which future conservatives and libertarians can build. He doesn't have to do this. He could simply be a conservative justice. For what he has done and will continue to do, he's one of the greatest Americans of our time and it probably won't be noticed until long after he's gone. I appreciate his service!!!

Quaestor said...

You don't think conservatives do that here?

Writes phx as he adjusts his knee-pads.

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Lem said...

What I remember, by way of explaining his reluctance to ask questions or just plain speak during arguments, had to do with a speech characteristic he said he had...

I believe he said that during a CSPAN interview... or maybe I saw it on CSPAN but it was not CSPAN conducting the interview.

William said...

Nothing so defines the hypocrisy of the left more than their treatment of Clarence Thomas. He's a decent man who has led an honorable life, but he gets nothing but ridicule and contempt. Jesse Jackson took his mistress with him to the White House in order to pastorally counsel Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal....Can someone from the left explain to me why Thomas's (alleged) behavior is so much more ridiculous than that of Jackson.

Michael said...

Justice Thomas has led an extraordinary life. The left loves to have a few blacks who are ideologically in opposition who they can unleash their virulent racism upon. Read the comments of any lefty blog on an article about Justice Thomas and you will see racism in full.

Revenant said...

The irony is that Thomas has a great speaking voice.

Tasha said...

Lem, Justice Thomas has given a few different explanations.
1) Staying silent out of respect for the advocates. He believes that some of his colleagues grandstand (true) and waste time in oral argument (again true), and that fighting to get a word in edgewise doesn't help anyone.
2) Staying silent out of habit/character. He mentions speaking the Gullah dialect as a child, being teased for it as he grew up, and developing the habit of listening rather than speaking as a result.
3) Staying silent because the whole thing is a farce. Everyone's seen the briefs. Minds seldom get changed, and he thinks that it's rare for an important point to come to light at oral argument. (I disagree with this somewhat: arguments seem to influence the tone and argumentative path taken by the opinion(s), and counsel gives up or scores an important point every so often.)

It's not horrible that Justice Thomas is silent at oral argument, and relative silence from the bench used to be the norm, but an occasional, well-thought-out comment can change things. Even as a liberal, I hope he speaks again this term.

Laura said...

The irony is that DNA testing has advanced so that any samples in evidence could be compelling: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/09/bog-bodies/bog-bodies-text.

McTriumph said...

phx said...
I love the comments over at Slate, it's pornographic, liberals fellating each other.

You don't think conservatives do that here?

No, we are voyeurs, we watch liberal fellate each other and rim Obama.