Hark! He speaketh.
BULLETIN! Close on the heels of the sudden death of one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most controversial members, another justice today (Feb. 29) experienced a serious health issue — except this one was salutary.
Observers of the court had surmised that for 10 years, Justice Clarence Thomas suffered under a mute condition, had a somnambulistic disorder, or was in a coma. Thus, when Thomas spoke today, the auditory effect was similar to that of a bowling ball dropped from 20 feet onto a pane of glass. Reports indicate that his fellow members either fell off their chairs or were shocked into apoplexy, or both.
Who now, brown cow?
With the death of Anthony Scalia fresh in their minds, the Thomas talking incident occasioned fears in both the liberal and conservative camps that President Obama might have to appoint several more candidates for the bench to fill the seats left vacant by those who hit the deck, as it were, not to mention the ones who suffered a stroke. The bones of the several members who are septuagenarians or octogenarians are especially fragile, and they were being examined for fractures incurred by their abrupt comedownance.
Though the court’s chamber shook from the shockwaves produced by Thomas’ basso profundo, his absence of profundity was well within the bounds of expectation, and the courtroom remained intact. After answering questions, the attorney for the defendant was about to wrap up her presentation, when Thomas’ voice struck like a thunderclap out of the clouds. “One question.” The issue was whether new limits should be placed on a federal law that bans persons convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. Thomas wanted to know if there were any other constitutional right “that can be suspended based on a misdemeanor violation of a state law.”
After the attorney hummed and hawed — she likely was dumbfounded by any question emanating from Thomas — Stephen Breyer opined, “We aren’t facing the constitutional question,” and the court didn’t have to decide it.
And that was that. Back to hibernation for the taciturn bear in the black robe.