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Has COVID-19 changed U.S. Supreme Court dynamics?

New commentary from Utah legal scholars suggests new platform for oral arguments unveils insight into the most silent justice in modern history.
University of Utah
8-May-2020 3:35 PM EDT, by University of Utah

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has long been known as the most silent justice in modern history.

While his colleagues on the bench often engage in colorful debate about the legal issues before them, court watchers for decades have commented on Thomas’ notable silence.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed that?

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor RonNell Andersen Jones and legal scholar Aaron L. Nielson have studied Thomas’ oral argument patterns for several years.

In recently published commentary, after observing the high court’s historic phone arguments, both scholars suggest the changed platform unveils new insight about Thomas’ preferred communication style.

“This week’s arguments, however, suggest that something very different is going on: Justice Thomas finds the theatrics of contemporary oral argument inappropriate,” the scholars write.

Andersen Jones is available for media interviews to discuss her previous scholarship on Thomas and new observations as SCOTUS dynamics change while navigating COVID-19.




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