Spotlight on Justice Thomas as Supreme Court Goes Back to Normal

Spotlight on Justice Thomas as Supreme Court Goes Back to Normal

( – A lot of things changed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost every industry had to make changes to its methods of operation, and the judiciary was no different. The transition from in-person court hearings to teleconference sittings actually may have yielded some benefits with regard to the nation’s highest court.

More Contribution From Justice Clarence Thomas

Those who follow the goings-on in the US Supreme Court have noticed something over the last year or so. Justice Clarence Thomas has been asking more questions.

Before the pandemic, when SCOTUS hearings took place in person, judges were free to interrupt parties to ask questions during arguments. Justice Clarence Thomas was notoriously reluctant to do so. He went over a decade without asking a question before posing one in 2016. He reportedly said this was because he believed the other judges on the bench interrupted lawyers too frequently during arguments, often in the middle of sentences.

However, when the pandemic struck and virtual trials became the norm, the format changed. To prevent excessive interruption, each justice was allotted a short period for questions after lawyers’ remarks. Once this system took effect, Clarence Thomas suddenly began asking more questions than ever before in his SCOTUS career.

Will Justice Thomas Go Back to Staying Silent?

The Supreme Court will go back to hearing arguments in person when it resumes in October. It has not been said whether questions will return to their pre-pandemic format or if justices will continue to get an allotment of time to make inquiries. It has, however, confirmed that it would continue to live stream hearings.

Some have remarked that Justice Thomas’s questions will be a great loss to the court if he stops asking them. Ilya Shapiro, head of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, said he believes this will happen as it’s how “it’s always been done.” He conceded that the loss of Thomas’ questions would be “unfortunate.”

Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino, who previously clerked for Clarence Thomas, expressed her hope that the new format would remain, alongside questions from Thomas.

As Thomas is the only Black justice on the Supreme Court bench, many Americans may regard his contributions as of particular importance. Of course, there are plenty of people who will simply point to Justice Clarence Thomas’ inherent authority when discussing this matter. Thomas is a Supreme Court Justice. If he wants to ask a question, he’ll ask one. If he doesn’t, he won’t.

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