Clarence Thomas breaks silence on bench during Supreme Court’s first remote argument

Thomas has long been the silent justice, letting years go by between any query to a lawyer at the Supreme Court lectern while his eight colleagues engaged in rapid-fire questions.

But during the high court’s first remote arguments on Monday, when the nine justices were not in their usual grand courtroom and no one could see any of them, Thomas asked as many questions as the other justices — perhaps because the format was the exact opposite of the usual speedy questions and interruptions.

Monday’s historic session had the feel of a congressional hearing. In this situation, it was Chief Justice John Roberts calling on members individually. It seemed the ideal and inviting format for the usually quiet 71-year-old justice.

The case concerns trademark protection in the age of internet business. was denied trademark protection because the Patent and Trademark Office found the name was too generic and that trademarking it would give the company an unfair monopoly over a common word.

The digital travel company sued and won when a lower court held that the name “Booking” combined with “.com” was protectable.

“Ms. Ross, the couple of questions,” Thomas began. “Could booking acquire an 800 number that’s a vanity number? 1-800-booking, for example, that is similar to 1-800-plumbing, which is a registered mark,” Thomas asked Erica Ross, assistant to the Solicitor General. He later followed up with questions to attorney Lisa Blatt.

Thomas has given many explanations for his singular silence through the years, including that he believes the justices should give the lawyers at the lectern more time to present their cases. He earlier referred to his youth in Pin Point, Georgia, where he developed a dialect he said was mocked; Thomas has said that gave him the habit of listening more than speaking.

In March 2019, he made headlines when he asked a question involving race during a case concerning a Mississippi prosecutor’s repeated elimination of blacks from a jury pool.

And nearly three years before that, the justice broke a 10-year silence when he spoke during oral arguments in a case about whether a prior domestic assault conviction based on reckless conduct qualifies as a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that would block the plaintiffs from possessing a firearm.

Source link

Leave a Comment