Remember that time when Thomas spoke?

Published May 19, 2007


Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 68 hours of oral arguments in the Supreme Court's current term without uttering a word. In nearly 16 years on the court, Thomas typically has asked questions a couple of times a term. But the last time Thomas asked a question in court was Feb. 22, 2006, in a death penalty case out of South Carolina. Thomas has said in the past that he will ask a pertinent question if his colleagues don't but sees no need to engage in the back-and-forth just to hear his own voice. A recent tally by McClatchy Newspapers underscored this point: Thomas has spoken 281 words since court transcripts began identifying justices by name in October 2004. By contrast, Thomas' neighbor on the bench, Justice Stephen Breyer, has uttered nearly 35, 000 words just since January.

Court: Pentagon to pick labor issues

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Friday the Pentagon has the authority to pick and choose which labor issues it will negotiate with unions representing more than 600, 000 civilian employees. The policy had been on hold since early last year when a federal judge said it eroded collective bargaining rights. The American Federation of Government Employees said the policy unfairly restricts the appeals process for unfavorable personnel decisions and allows the Pentagon to avoid negotiating at all.