Thomas Breaks Silence: Yale Training?

Photograph by Cliff Owen/AP Photo

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs while talking with other guests at The Federalist Society’s 2011 Annual Dinner in Washington.

For almost seven years, Justice Clarence Thomas has sat silently through Supreme Court oral arguments.

Until today, when he apparently offered a crack about a couple of the nation’s top law schools.

Thomas jumped in as Justice Antonin Scalia was asking a Louisiana prosecutor about the adequacy of a criminal defendant’s lawyers.

The lawyer, Carla S. Sigler, confirmed that one member of the defense team was a graduate of Yale Law School and that a second had attended Harvard Law School. Scalia, a Harvard graduate, replied, “son of a gun.”

Thomas, a Yale graduate who until recently had a strained relationship with his alma mater, quipped that a Yale degree could be a sign of incompetence, rather than competence, according to Scotusblog, which tracks the court and is sponsored by Bloomberg.

The transcript skipped over this interchange, also missed by the court’s sound recording, though the transcript does note some laughter — with Sigler responding: “I would refute that, Justice Thomas.”

Thomas hasn’t asked an actual question in oral arguments since Feb. 22, 2006.


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