Add Justice Antonin Scalia to the list of people who are puzzled by Justice Clarence Thomas’ refusal to participate in Supreme Court oral arguments.
At an appearance this week at Pepperdine School of Law, Scalia noted that oral arguments serve an important role, and Thomas would benefit himself and the other justices by speaking up, according to an account by attorney Benjamin Shatz posted on En Banc, the blog of the Los Angeles County Bar. Thomas, as DC Dicta readers know, hasn’t asked a question during the Court’s oral hearings since Feb. 22, 2006.
Without active questioning by the justices, lawyers arguing before the Court simply “regurgitate their ‘blessed’ briefs,” Scalia said, according to Shatz. Since the justices have already read the briefs, Scalia said, such recitation is like listening to a book on tape after reading the book, Shatz wrote.
During the Pepperdine talk, Scalia also lamented that federal judgeships aren’t as prestigious as they used to be. Federal judges used to be the best of the best – the “knights of the bar” – but now federal benches are made up mostly of career government people who have “had their snouts in the public trough their whole lives.”
And despite being known for his keen legal mind, his wife calls him “Mr. Clueless,” according to the blog post.
Scalia also noted that when it comes to the Court’s opinions, it is “always better to be in the majority, except when the majority is wrong.” But later at Town Hall Los Angeles event, he said dissents allow him to cut loose.
“Dissents are more fun,” Scalia said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You’re writing for yourself. You can really let it rip.”
[HT: ABA Journal]