BREAKING NEWS: Clarence Thomas Spoke During Supreme Court Oral Argument

BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has not talked for nearly 7 years during Supreme Court oral arguments. But today he did.

Let me guess what he said:

“Rosebud.”

Well, not quite. But it could have been part of what he said:

Justice Clarence Thomas broke his nearly seven-year silence at Supreme Court oral arguments Monday. But no one is sure exactly what he said.

Thomas seemed to be making a light-hearted joke about lawyers trained at his alma mater, Yale Law School, or its rival, Harvard; the Ivy League is a common Thomas target. But several justices were speaking and laughing at the time, and Thomas’s exact comments apparently are lost to history.

It was over so quickly that some observers hadn’t realized the 64-year-old justice had spoken at all.

Still, just the utterance set off a small quake among those who closely follow the Supreme Court. It quickly lit up Twitter, and parts of official Washington waited for a transcript of the proceedings or a scrubbing of the tape of oral arguments. It prompted the kind of intense analysis that usually accompanies one of the court’s important decisions.

Of the many mysteries about life inside the Marble Palace at First Street that puzzle the public, the question of why Thomas has not asked a question at oral argument since Feb. 22, 2006, is one of the most enduring.

(And to be clear, that streak continues. Whatever Thomas’s exact words, it was apparent that he was not asking a question of counsel.)

Actually, if he said more I bet he’d sound like Harold Hill in The Music Man in this song: