I don’t know to what extent this was prompted by Scalia’s permanent absence, but this happened today:
Breaking a decade-long silence, Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday asked several questions from the Supreme Court bench. He spoke just weeks after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose empty seat next to Justice Thomas’s remains draped in black.
It was hard to escape the conclusion that the absence of the voluble Justice Scalia, who had dominated Supreme Court arguments, somehow liberated Justice Thomas and allowed him to resume participating in the court’s most public activity.
The questions came in a minor case on domestic violence convictions and gun rights. Justice Thomas, according to the few reporters in the courtroom, asked a question about whether such convictions suspend a constitutional right.
Longtime readers (if any) will remember that I think far too much has been made of Thomas’s silence during oral arguments, and it’s neither here nor there in terms of his abilities as a justice, but there you go.