Clearly in response to this diary, Thomas Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog.com, offers a different take on the apparently highly significant event of Justice Clarence Thomas breaking his seven year silence at oral argument Monday:
Some of the commentary has devolved into psychoanalysis of the Justice’s supposed hostility towards Yale Law School. The real question to be asked is: can you take a joke?Why should we listen to Mr. Goldstein?
Because he's in this Courtroom alot, yesterday included:
Most of the Justices were in a lighthearted mood today. There was a lot of banter between them. At one point, the questioning turned to whether the petitioner – a capital defendant – had “competent” counsel. Justice Scalia made the rhetorical point that his lawyer was impressive because she had gone to Yale. Chuckling, Justice Thomas interjected (as I heard it, imperfectly) that fact might make the lawyer “incompetent.”Gasp! The horror!
In context, no one could think that the line was a genuine attack on Yale. Justice Thomas is a Yale graduate, and he was making a self-deprecating comment.That's not very Justice-like of him to do in such a decorum-laden forum though, is it?
(This is ordinarily the kind of thing one of the Justices would have whispered jokingly to another, but here Justice Thomas leaned into his microphone.)So there you have it. Seven years of silence broken, and all he could do was "tell a joke" that on any other day Scalia would've likely put to shame.