Justice Clarence Thomas Breaks His Decade-Long Silence on the Bench

PHOTO: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.PlayMCT/Getty Images
WATCH Justice Clarence Thomas Breaks Decade-Long Silence on the Bench

Justice Clarence Thomas broke his silence today after ten years of not asking a question on the bench.

Thomas last spoke from the bench on Feb. 22, 2006. Today, he asked nearly a dozen questions during oral arguments in the case of Voisine v. United States, which examines whether convictions for reckless misdemeanor domestic violence assault can prevent firearm ownership.

Thomas asked one of the lawyers to provide an example of when a constitutional right can be taken away for a misdemeanor violation.

“Can you give me...this is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?” Thomas asked. "You're saying that recklessness is sufficient to trigger a violation -- misdemeanor violation of domestic conduct that results in a lifetime ban on possession of a gun."

He continued: "Well, let's say that a publisher is reckless about the use of children, and what could be considered indecent displace and that triggers a violation of, say, a hypothetical law against the use of children in these ads, and let's say it's a misdemeanor violation. Could you suspend that publisher's right to ever publish again?”

Assistant to the Solicitor General Ilana Eisenstein responded, "I don’t think you could suspend the right to ever publish” to which Thomas followed by asking, “So how is that different from suspending your Second Amendment right?

This is the second time in a week the public has heard from Thomas. Last Thursday, Thomas was asked questions by TMZ after a luncheon.