*In late February, Justice Clarence Thomas asked his first question from the Supreme Court bench in 10 years. It was such a shock that audible gasps reportedly rippled throughout the courtroom.
Wendell Pierce, who plays Justice Thomas in HBO’s “Confirmation,” was asked by TV critics in January if his portrayal offered any insight as to why Justice Thomas hadn’t spoken from the Supreme Court bench since Feb. 22, 2006.
“Well, it’s interesting. I actually spoke to a couple of justices who understand the process and who were actually in line to go to the Supreme Court,” said Pierce, adding that although he didn’t get to meet Thomas personally, he did learn about the Supreme Court’s deliberation process.
“In deliberation, they go around the table from seniority, and then they go back out to oral arguments, and then come back to the deliberating table, and they go around, and they all have the chance [to speak]. It is a common belief that most justices, when they are asking questions in oral arguments, are really trying to impress their opinions upon their fellow justices, reminding them of their opinion, and asking questions that lead and support their ideas. So it’s not the idea that he’s disappeared.
“The thing that makes it curious to people is the fact that he wouldn’t want that other opportunity to make the impression upon his other justices. He just takes his moment around the table, the deliberations, the twice that they go around the table. And in oral arguments, he doesn’t take it upon himself to try to push his opinion on his fellow judges and justices with questions. So it’s really a curiosity of judicial strategy, more than anything else, and it is not him being silent or mute.”
Pierce said Thomas’ Supreme Court silence has contributed to a deeper curiosity about the man he portrays — despite their vast political differences.
“Confirmation” about the Congressional hearings surrounding sexual harassment allegations against Thomas from law professor Anita Hill (played by Kerry Washington), premieres Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. on HBO.
Watch the trailer below: