The famously quiet Clarence Thomas spoke up on Monday morning and asked questions during oral arguments in a case about gun ownership, the first time the Supreme Court Justice has spoken a word in 10 years.
Thomas, who last spoke during oral arguments on February 22, 2006, asked a question to government attorney Ilana H. Eisenstein concerning the Voisine v. United States case.
Thomas asked: “It suspends a constitutional right — Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”
According to reports, both Eisenstein and Thomas went back and forth on the issue and everyone was in shock when Thomas spoke.
The Al Pacino v. United States case involves “whether a prior domestic assault conviction based on reckless conduct qualifies as a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that would block the plaintiffs from possessing a firearm,” wrote CNN.
In an interview in 2013, Thomas explained his reasons for staying quiet for ten years.
“We have a lifetime to go back in chambers and to argue with each other, lawyers should argue. That’s a part of the process,” he stated.
He also stated that he doesn’t like to badger people.
Thomas and the rest of the Supreme Court Justices are still in mourning over the loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on February 13. Thomas and Scalia were very close friends, and he spoke at Scalia’s funeral earlier this month, reading a passage from the New Testament.
There is no word on who will replace Scalia. President Obama wants to name a successor, but Republican lawmakers believe since this is an election year the next President should appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, despite the Constitution stated it is the duty of the sitting president.
Facing a critical week, Obama spent this past weekend reviewing material culled from public records about potential candidates for the job.
He is hoping to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice before he leaves office in January.