Clarence Thomas speaks for the first time in 6 years, nobody hears

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY,  |  Updated Jan. 14, 2013 at 9:01 PM
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke his nearly seven-year silence during arguments Monday morning.

The last time Thomas spoke during oral arguments was Feb. 22, 2006, until he spoke out in jest about the defendant's legal counsel's credentials during Boyer v. State of Louisiana Monday.

The only problem? Nobody quite caught what he said.

There's a tree falling in the forest joke in there somewhere.

The official court transcript shows Justice Antonin Scalia confirmed with Louisiana state's assistant district attorney Cara Sigler, that the defendant's lawyer was a graduate of Harvard Law.

"Yes, your honor," Sigler answered.

"Son of a gun," Scalia said.

And then:

JUSTICE THOMAS: "Well--he did not--" (Laughter.)

MS. SIGLER: I would refute that, Justice Thomas

Law student Billy Freedland thought Thomas might have said "That's not effective counsel," as if to poke fun at a Harvard degree.

The SCOTUSBlog reporter agreed:

The case before the Court has to do with whether a Louisiana man convicted of second-degree murder received a speedy enough trial after the state failed to fund legal counsel for the defendant for five years, even in the face of the prosecution seeking the death penalty.

But if Boyer vs. Louisiana goes down in history, it may be because it was the moment Thomas piped up, even if no one knows exactly what he said.

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