Justice Clarence Thomas, near the end of a little-noticed criminal law case involving issues of domestic abuse and the potential loss of gun rights, asked his first question from the Supreme Court bench in 10 years.
"Can you give me an area [of law] where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right," Thomas asked of the federal government's lawyer, who was arguing that a federal ban on gun ownership for certain persons who are convicted of domestic violence offenses at the state level should apply if the offense was committed "recklessly."
Ilana Eisenstein, the assistant solicitor general arguing the case, had asked if anyone had more questions for her. That's when Thomas, in his booming baritone, spoke up, asking a lengthy string of questions about an issue so far unexplored in the hearing.
He wanted to know "how long" the suspension of Second Amendment rights was for persons prohibited under federal law to possess firearms, and he pressed Eisenstein to name any other legal analog where the federal government could permanently curtail constitutional rights following a conviction for an unrelated offense.
"Let's say that a publisher is reckless about the use of children ... in indecent displays," he said, and wondered if the government then could suspend that publisher's right of free press permanently.
Monday, February 29, 2016
"Can you give me an area [of law] where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right."
That was Justice Thomas' first question in over 10 years. Apparently he asked a bunch of questions. From the Huffington Post: