Justice Thomas has long been famous for his recalcitrance to ask questions during oral argument. As an unabashed fan of his jurisprudence, I can’t say it’s affected his impact as a Justice, but it is fascinating nonetheless.
Generally, oral argument is viewed as an opportunity for Justices to either clarify points of ambiguity or to reveal flaws in the argument favored by the other Justices in order to sway opinion voting.
So, Justice Thomas’ reluctance and/or refusal to engage in the practice can be interpreted to mean any number of things; ranging from an assumption that he generally makes up his mind from the briefing and thus feels no need to explore briefed issues with the appellate counsel in person, to the possibility that he views as more effective to swaying the votes of other Justices the circulation of opposing opinion drafts to pilloring the target Justice’s favored counsel.
Thx to WSJ Law Blog