Clarence Thomas the Questioner
111 Northwestern University Law Review 1185 (2017)
111 Northwestern University Law Review Online 197 (2017)
33 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 10 Feb 2021
Date Written: November 1, 2016
One of Justice Clarence Thomas’s most remarked upon characteristics is his reluctance to ask questions during oral argument. Many have criticized him for his silence. Others defend his silence, noting, for instance, that historically oral argument played a much less significant role and that the Justice’s written opinions speak for themselves. What has been overlooked in this debate, however, is the fact that Justice Thomas is talented at asking questions. Indeed, in many ways, he is a model questioner. Drawing on the most comprehensive collection of Thomas’s oral argument questions ever compiled, we urge the Justice to ask more questions for a new reason: he is good at it.
This article was published in the Northwestern University Law Review and in the Northwestern University Law Review Online. The online version is available on SSRN because it includes the authors' appendix cataloguing Justice Thomas's questions and comments during oral arguments. The print version is available at https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/nulr/vol111/iss4/8/.
Keywords: United States Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, oral argument, judicial behavior
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