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Monday status conference: Thomas thinks justices should get out more

The U.S. Supreme Court’s summer recess gives the justices a chance to get out and see the country. And that is a good thing, according to Justice Clarence Thomas, who complains that the justices have become too isolated at the Court – a place he calls an “marble palace.”

“(The Supreme Court) truly is a marble palace (because) we’re isolated,” Thomas said during remarks at Utah State Bar’s summer convention Saturday morning in Sun Valley, Idaho reports the Deseret News. “We’re isolated from the politics, we’re isolated from the city and in a lot of ways we’re isolated from the country. These trips allow me to come out and see the people who really matter in our government, and that is you all.”

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Thomas also gave another reason why he does not participate in oral argument questioning: He’s not a big fan of TV game shows.

“There can be some questions to clarify things, to challenge it, but you don’t need 50 questions per case,” Thomas said. “That becomes more like ‘Family Feud’ than oral argument.”

He remembered a time where justices would actually listen to the attorneys making their case. “We have ceased doing that,” Thomas explained. “Now it’s become a debate or seminar. I don’t find that particularly helpful. It may be entertaining, but I am not there to entertain anybody.”

Thomas did show his sense of humor during the talk, the Deseret News reports. He made the crowd laugh multiple times during his talk – (perhaps he would be one of the funniest justices if he spoke during oral argument!) – and poked fun at the fact that he’s the Court’s only black justice.

“Things might happen when (I’m not at the court),” he said. “You all may not remember that Eddie Murphy skit where he’s on the bus and he’s the only black guy on the bus and nobody talks – it’s sort of like being on an elevator. As soon as Eddie Murphy leaves the bus, all the whites who are left on the bus throw off their outer garments and they’re in party outfits. So things may be going on at the court (when I’m not there) – they may just be waiting and saying, ‘Oh, the black guy’s gone!’ ”

In other news:

Chief Dissenter Breyer? Now that Justice John Paul Stevens has retired, will Justice Stephen Breyer become the Court’s most vocal dissenter? (The Daily Journal via How Appealing Extra)

Widening divide: President Obama’s Supreme Court picks have done little to bridge the ideological divisions on the Court. (Bloomberg)

Knowing it when you see it: The National Law Journal‘s Tony Mauro examines the papers of Justice Steward Potter, which were recently released by the Yale University Library. (NLJ)

HIPAA, HIPAA, hooray! Lawyers can expect to be busy in the coming year reviewing and revising contracts of health care entities and related businesses in light of new proposed HIPAA rules. (Lawyers USA)

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