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Clarence Thomas the Questioner

39 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 21 Feb 2017

RonNell Andersen Jones

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Aaron Nielson

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Date Written: November 1, 2016

Abstract

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.

Keywords: United States Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, oral argument, judicial behavior

Suggested Citation

Jones, RonNell Andersen and Nielson, Aaron, Clarence Thomas the Questioner (November 1, 2016). Northwestern University Law Review, Forthcoming; BYU Law Research Paper No. 17-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862240

RonNell Andersen Jones (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-587-8756 (Phone)

Aaron Nielson

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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