Clarence Thomas dismisses 'ridiculous' criticism that he doesn't ask enough questions during Supreme Court oral arguments: book




Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas  
  • Clarence Thomas dismissed criticism that he isn't vocal enough during Supreme Court oral arguments.

  • "If you look at the history of the Court, the Court was a very quiet Court," he said in a new book.

  • Thomas, a pillar of the six-member conservative bloc, has served on the Supreme Court since 1991.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in a new book dismissed critics who have accused him of not asking enough questions during oral arguments, arguing that there was no need for him to be "hyperactive."

In the book, "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words," co-edited by Michael Pack and Mark Paoletta, the judge sat down with Pack for over 30 hours between November 2017 and March 2018, in what became an expanded companion to the 2020 documentary of the same name.

During his conversation with Pack, Thomas addressed why he doesn't feel the need to be excessively vocal when hearing cases.

"That stuff is ridiculous," he said of the criticism. "If you look at the history of the Court, the Court was a very quiet Court."

He continued: "Justice (William) Brennan rarely asked questions. Justice (Lewis) Powell rarely asked questions," referring to William Brennan, who served from 1956 to 1990, and Lewis Powell who served from 1971 to 1987.

"This is all new. When I got to the Court, people actually listened: Justice (Byron) White, Chief Justice (William) Rehnquist, Justice (Harry) Blackmun. Justice (Thurgood) Marshall wasn't on the Court with me. But I heard by and large they were pretty quiet."

Thomas, who has been a member of the Supreme Court since 1991, is a pillar of its six-member conservative bloc. He said in the book that the emphasis on vocalizing opinions is not needed in the Supreme Court setting.

"We've gotten very hyperactive now. I think it's unnecessary, and I don't think it befits the Court, and it doesn't advance the process," he said.

He added: "I think that an advocate should be allowed to advocate. We are judges, not advocates. We should act accordingly. Yeah, we might have opinions, but it's not my job to argue with lawyers; it's their job to make their cases and there's an advocate on each side."

He continued, "The referee in the game should not be a participant in the game. There might be things you want to flesh out, but we cannot cross the line between advocacy and judging."

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