Oral Advocacy is Overemphasized, Justice Thomas Says
Written briefs are far more important than oral arguments, according to someone who should know: U.S Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Thomas spoke yesterday in a panel discussion on professionalism, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. “We overemphasize the oral advocacy,” Thomas said. “The written advocacy is far more important.”
In nine out of 10 cases, Thomas said, oral arguments do not change his position.
The Daily Journal story says Thomas told lawyers at the 11th Circuit Appellate Practice Institute that briefs should be well-written, but that doesn’t mean they have to be long. “Do not assume that a judge is reading only your brief this week,” he said.
Thomas rarely asks questions in oral arguments, and he explained why. “I believe quite strongly we, as judges, need to take the approach we’re here to solve difficult problems, not debate with lawyers,” he said.