Breaking News

Wednesday round-up

Two recent New York Times articles about Justice Thomas (covered in the Monday and Tuesday round-ups) have spurred commentary on his silence during oral arguments and his activities away from the Court. Bloomberg News columnist Ann Woolner views Justice Thomas’s silence on the bench as a marginalizing force. She writes that “by staying silent, Thomas is surely giving up potential influence” and adds that “Thomas’s inability to let [his views] out into the great hall of the court diminishes them.” But for Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, “[t]he problem isn’t that Thomas needs to speak more, or even more often. It’s that he appears to have convinced himself that there are no safe, neutral public places in which he can speak at all.” Other commentators – including retired Third Circuit judge H. Lee Sarokin, writing in the Huffington Post, Katrina vanden Heuvel at the Washington Post, Steve Benen of Washington Monthly, Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Joan Walsh of Salon (who also links to video by Rachel Maddow) – are critical of Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial connections to supporters of conservative causes.

Finally, an additional bit of news on Justice Thomas: he will deliver the keynote address at the 30th Annual Federalist Society Student Symposium at the University of Virginia later this month. (Thanks to Howard Bashman of How Appealing for the link.)


  • The Washington Legal Foundation’s Mid-Term Briefing begins this morning at 9:30 and will be available for live streaming.
  • Texas death-row inmate Michael Wayne Hall was executed yesterday, less than an hour after the Court denied a request to stay his punishment, according to the Associated Press (via the Arlington (Texas) Citizen-Journal). Ohio death-row inmate Frank Spisak, who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, also asked the Court for a delay yesterday. The Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune) and WKYC (Cleveland/Akron) report that Spisak’s request is based on comments that Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer made against the death penalty.
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr has posted an hour-long interview by Duke law professor Sara Sun Beale with Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben. The interview, in which Dreeben discusses Supreme Court advocacy and the Solicitor General’s Office, was conducted last November at Duke’s law school.

Recommended Citation: Adam Chandler, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 16, 2011, 8:04 AM),