For the past decade, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has maintained silence during oral arguments, foregoing questions in favor of simply reading the presented briefs. But he unexpectedly broke that silence today (February 29) during a hearing for Voisine v. United States, which considers the gun ownership rights of people convicted of domestic violence.
NBC Washington reports that Thomas—who last asked a question on February 22, 2006—stunned those in attendance when he asked Justice Department attorney Ilana Eisenstein: “Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”
Thomas then followed up with questions about the Second Amendment, an issue about which he has what ThinkProgress describes as ”a record of near absolutism.” Thomas opined against assault rifle bans during a case in the aftermath of this December’s massacre in San Bernardino.
The Justice’s questions come shortly following the death of his Supreme Court colleague and fellow conservative, Antonin Scalia.