Clarence Thomas scolds colleagues for talking too much at oral arguments

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defended his silence during the oral arguments last week on President Obama's healthcare law and scolded his colleagues for talking too much.

“I don’t see where that advances anything,” Thomas said of peppering attorneys with questions, according to The Associated Press. “Maybe it’s the Southerner in me. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, I don’t know. I think that when somebody’s talking, somebody ought to listen.”

Thomas has gained notoriety for his silence from the bench — the Supreme Court justice has not asked a question since 2006. No other Supreme Court justice has made it through a single year without asking a question.

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Thomas defended his decision to stay mum during a 90-minute panel on Thursday evening that was moderated by the dean of the University of Kentucky's law school.

“I don’t need to hold your hand, help you cross the street to argue a case. I don’t need to badger you," Thomas said.

The George H.W. Bush-appointee said the frequent questions from his colleagues during the healthcare oral arguments weren't unusual. But Thomas said the habit of frequent interruptions is unproductive.

"We have a lifetime to go back in chambers and to argue with each other,” he said. “They have 30, 40 minutes per side for cases that are important to them and to the country. They should argue. That’s a part of the process.

“I don’t like to badger people. These are not children. The court traditionally did not do that. I have been there 20 years. I see no need for all of that. Most of that is in the briefs, and there are a few questions around the edges.”