Judges,  Oral Advocacy,  U.S. Supreme Court

You’ve Heard of Doubting Thomas. Here’s Silent Thomas.

This AP article explores the curious silence of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to the article, Justice Thomas has not asked a question at oral argument in two years. I knew he was a man of few words that rarely asked questions . . . but two years? That’s stunning.

He says he asks questions when he needs to.

Which reminds me of the kid who wouldn’t talk. At age 2, his parents took him to the doctor, who could find nothing physically wrong with him.

But at age 4, he still hadn’t said a word. To the doctor again. Again, nothing physically wrong.

And so it went for years, with his parents taking him to the doctor every year or so, only to be told again and again that there was no physical explanation.

Finally, one day when the boy was about 12 years old, he said during dinner, “The potatoes are cold.” His parents dropped their silverware in stunned disbelief.

“You can talk!” they shouted in unison.

“Of course I can talk,” said the boy. “So what?”

His parents made the obvious point: “You never talked before!”

“Up until now,” said the boy, “everything was fine.”

I wonder if they ever told that one in the Thomas household.

UPDATE (3/6/08): I’m curious who you readers in California or the Ninth Circuit find least likely to ask questions. Name your favorite silent California justice (Supreme Court or Court of Appeal) or Ninth Circuit judge in the comments.