January 2013 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Breaks Seven Year Long Silence

The justices were hearing an argument about the state of Louisiana’s delay in paying for counsel for a death penalty defendant. Should that count against the state for the purposes of the right to a speedy trial?

A lawyer for the state was making the case for the inmate’s appointed counsel, saying the woman was “more than qualified” and “very impressive.”

“She was a graduate of Yale Law School, wasn’t she?” said Justice Antonin Scalia in apparent support, noting another member of the legal team went to Harvard.

The next words were hard to hear in the back-and-forth between the justices. But Thomas made a joke about the competence of Yale lawyers when compared to their Harvard colleagues, according to two witnesses.

Six members of the current high court attended Harvard Law School. Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor attended Yale Law School.

The official transcript released by the court does not capture the flavor of the colorful exchange. But the lawyer arguing before the court was not pleased.

“I would refute that, Justice Thomas,” said Carla Sigler, the assistant district attorney in Lake Charles, Louisiana.


MCCA’s “Myth of Meritocracy” work supports the fact that where lawyers went to school isn’t the be all and end all that recruiters make it out to be. For more on that report, please click here.


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