Clarence Thomas has broken his seven years’ silence during oral arguments!
And no one knows what he said.
According to the transcript, they were speaking of the qualifications of a lawyer under Rule 31, when the following exchange happened:
JUSTICE SCALIA: She was a graduate of Yale law school, wasn’t she?
MS. SIGLER: She’s a very impressive attorney. Mr. Singer — of the three that he had — he was a
JUSTICE SCALIA: And another of his counsel, graduate of Harvard law school, wasn’t he?
MS. SIGLER: Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Son of a gun.
JUSTICE THOMAS: Well — he did not -
MS. SIGLER: I would refute that, Justice Thomas.
This is almost poignant. It’s like a tree breaking its silence during oral arguments in the deep forest, but the remark not making it into the forest’s oral arguments transcript. Or something like that.
Perhaps Thomas told the World’s Funniest Joke and they are purging it from the record to spare innocent lives. Maybe he made the sound of one hand clapping. Maybe he whispered to the courtroom the same thing that Bill Murray’s character whispers at the end of “Lost in Translation,” but it was much funnier than anyone expected. This incident will later serve as the key event of a movie entitled “Lost in Transcription,” which no one will see because the joke in its title is so obviously forced. Then Justice Thomas threw a monolith into their midst and floated off into space as a giant baby, or something.
It is like the Alamo: you had to be there.
We can only guess at the deep wisdom and profound humor of Justice Thomas’s remark. It was not irrefutable. That we know. But beyond that, who can say?