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Thomas speaks, but not clearly

Today Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did what he hasn’t done since 2006: made a comment during oral arguments. He even earned a laugh in the process. There’s one problem: no one – including the Court’s transcriptionist – is sure what he said.

During oral arguments in a case considering competence of counsel, Justice Antonin G. Scalia pointed out that one attorney “was a graduate of Harvard law school, wasn’t he?”

When attorney Carla Sigler answered that he was, Scalia, a Harvard Law grad, responded: “Son of a gun.”

In response, Thomas said something to the effect that a degree from Yale – his alma mater – didn’t ensure competency, which drew laughs from his bench mates. But according to the transcript Thomas said: “Well — he did not –,” so his first comment in nearly 7 years was not exactly on the record.

UPDATE: Perhaps Thomas said: “Or incompetent.” Developing…

UPDATE II: Maybe it was: “Well, he did not have competent counsel, then.”

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