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U.S. Supreme Court

Breyer sometimes poses questions for Thomas during oral arguments

Posted Feb 19, 2013 8:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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About seven years have passed since Justice Clarence Thomas has posed a question in oral arguments, though he did recently make a rare remark that appeared to be a joke about the quality of Harvard Law School.

But some of Thomas’ questions are still being aired, despite his silence, the Washington Post reports. Thomas sometimes writes down a question and passes it along to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Thomas’ “friend and seatmate on the bench,” the story says.

In a recent appearance at Harvard Law School, Thomas confirmed Breyer’s assistance, according to the Post. “I’ll say, ‘What about this, Steve,’ and he’ll pop up and ask a question,” Thomas said. “So you can blame some of those [Breyer questions] on me.”

Thomas told the Harvard law students he doesn’t ask questions because “I think we should listen to lawyers who are arguing their case and I think we should allow the advocates to advocate.”

Thomas said in the speech that he is “quite introverted,” though he makes regular appearances at law schools. The Post described Thomas as “warm and effusive” in his Harvard visit and said that, if he did ask questions in arguments, the public could learn more about his personality on display in the speeches.

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