After Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death, many wondered how his Conservative homebody and fellow originalist Justice Clarence Thomas would take his absence. While Scalia was extremely outspoken during oral arguments, asking questions and making several controversial remarks, Thomas remained silent…for 10 years. On Monday, the court’s lone Black Justice decided to make his presence known.
During a case that would prevent people convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun, Thomas asked if any other misdemeanor conviction currently precludes someone’s Second Amendment rights.
“Ms. Eisenstein, just one question,” Thomas said, shocking everyone. “Can you give me — this is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”
Thomas went onto ask several follow-up questions, completely stunning court observers.
According to the Washington Post, the last time Justice Thomas posed a question during an oral argument was 2006. And though folks have often mentioned his silence, Thomas says being vocal during hearings isn’t the most important thing.
“I think it’s unnecessary to deciding cases to ask that many questions and I don’t think it’s helpful,” he said. “I think we should listen to lawyers who are arguing their case and I think we should allow the advocates to advocate.”