Supreme Court judge doesn’t say a word in court for 15 months

The only black judge of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas is said by Wikipedia to be second most likely to vote in favour of free speech in cases before the Court. Yet his advocacy of free speech does not extend to enthusiasm for personal exercise of the right; he has not asked a question of counsel in court for 15 months.

Some commentators suggest he is not an enthusiast of oral argument. Orality is a much bigger feature of Australian and English courtrooms than American, but it is on the way out, slowly. Several were the times in the Bar Readers’ Course I will complete on Thursday that we were told that a written submission is appropriate to every hearing in every court, a proposition which if taken literally stretches my credibility at least, but is probably not as far from the mark as many people might think.

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