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:

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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ordinarysparrow
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ordinarysparrow
3 years 8 months ago

Was it Old English or Latin?

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 8 months ago

What a great role for Robert Preston! One of my favorite musicals.

As for Clarence Thomas? I have nothing good to say about the man.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 8 months ago

” Those who know..do not speak, Those who speak.. do not know”

In the case of Thomas, He’s useless either way. :)

Barky
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3 years 8 months ago

Breaking News: Worthless Sack Does Actual Job. Film at Eleven.

ShannonLeee
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ShannonLeee
3 years 8 months ago

He knows he is not qualified and does not want to embarrass himself by asking a stupid question.

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
Editor

He was badly escoriated in his nomination hearings; the media made a sideshow out of it. Danforth couldnt protect him from the barrage of ridicule. He may not speak much, not wanting to risk media to make him ‘news’ in shaming him again. Part of the side show was about affirmative action, taking advantage of quotas, and so on, the latter having far more clipping power perhaps than allegations of sexualizing the work environment.

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 8 months ago

I believe Anita Hill.

ShannonLeee
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ShannonLeee
3 years 8 months ago

Dr E., I would think that asking questions or making comments would be a requirement for his job. How would the votes have gone if he would have stated before hand that he planned on not speaking during most of his appointment?

I dont get it.

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
Editor

that’s a really good point to ponder SL… how would the votes have gone had he said he would be essentially mute for many years. Good point. I’d like to look a bit further into the story to see if in fact he doesnt at least ask questions. That would be a really odd way to proceed, to never want to know more about the various facts of a case?

The_Ohioan
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The_Ohioan
3 years 8 months ago

With all due respect, it was the Senate committee that made it a side show. Senator Simpson in particular was a leading Mummer in that Mummer’s Parade.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc7KSINLF5U

Not that the Senate wanted to have anything to do with Ms. Hill; it was outraged women who forced them to it. Would that they could force them to consider gun control. And would that Justice Thomas could use his voice in the Supreme Court as well as at conservative groups’ meetings.

ordinarysparrow
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ordinarysparrow
3 years 8 months ago
Ohioan i was left with similar perceptions…” it was the Senate committee that made it a side show.” I don’t think i missed any of the hearings, until that time gave little attention to politics, but Hill/Thomas ushered in a growing interest. I believe this was an event that brought many women into a greater political awareness… Sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and political partisanship…As far as partisan politics Anita Hill may of been the ‘granmothering’ spring that rose from the ground and continued to flow into the drowning river of Republican vitriol that we see this day in ones like… Read more »
The_Ohioan
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The_Ohioan
3 years 8 months ago
os True, all true. The strange thing was..I had to take my daughter back to college in another town and was listening to the hearing on the radio on the way back home. I thought, just from hearing it, that she was not telling the truth. When I got home and turned on the TV, I completely reversed my opinion. To this day I’m not sure what the actual truth is, but have concluded that Ms. Hill was a straight arrow innocent with a religious background who didn’t know how to joke about what Mr. Thomas thought was perfectly alright… Read more »
DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
Editor
stationed at FE Warren AFB, which was Senator Simpson country, it was a heck a time then, as Simpson spoke mainly for old time ranchers. The first well know legal case of sexual harrassment handed down a precedent decision in 1976. 1991 was the year of the Clarence Thomas hearings. Many many women took huge risks to bring cases long before then. They were the pioneers. Hill, as I recall hearing her on radio was speaking about inappropriate language and Thomas allegedly sexually harassing female colleagues when they all worked together. She claimed in the plural in terms of Thomas… Read more »
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