JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS ASKS QUESTIONS IN COURT FOR 1ST TIME IN 10 YEARs

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 9:07 AM
Thomas has said he relies on written briefs and doesn’t need to question lawyers
Questions came as court considers placing limits law dealing with gun ownership
Thomas last asked a question in court on Feb. 22, 2006

BY SAM HANANEL
Associated Press

WASHINGTON
Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of silence and provoked audible gasps at the Supreme Court on Monday when he posed questions from the bench during an oral argument.
In a case about a federal law that bans people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns, Thomas wanted to know of any other case where breaking a law suspends constitutional rights.
And it wasn’t just one question; it was a back-and-forth lasting a few minutes that stunned lawyers, reporters and others in the courtroom.
It was only the second week the court has heard arguments since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas’ friend and fellow conservative.
Thomas for seven years sat next to Scalia, who was famous for aggressive and sometimes combative questions from the bench. Scalia’s chair is now draped in black in a tribute to his death on Feb. 13.
Thomas’ questions Monday came in case in which the court is considering placing new limits on the reach of the 1996 law. The court is considering an appeal from two Maine men who say their guilty pleas for hitting their partners should not disqualify them from gun ownership.
With about 10 minutes left in

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