With oral argument by telephone and the Justices subjected to a protocol of asking their questions in order of seniority, the long-silent Justice Thomas asked 2 questions.

Thomas has been on the Court longer than any of the Justices, but the Chief Justice is regarded as first in seniority. That makes Thomas second in seniority, and therefore the second to have the opportunity to speak under this new approach.

I'm reading the report at Fox News, which notes that Thomas had, before this morning, only spoken twice at oral argument since 2006.

Thomas's questions today were about whether Booking.com could trademark "Booking.com": "Could Booking acquire an 800 number that's a vanity number, 1-800-booking for example, that is similar to 1-800-plumbing, which is a registered mark?... I'd like you to compare this to Goodyear.... In Goodyear, you had a generic term, but you also had an added term, such as company or inc, which any company could use. With Booking here there could only be one domain address dot com, so this would seem to be more analogous to the 1-800 numbers which are also individualized."

The new approach is much more polite and orderly. Obviously, the usual approach of Justices breaking in and attempting to dominate would be horrible on a telephone conference call. Maybe this experiment in order will affect how the Justices go forward with their courtroom theatrics if and when the social distancing ends.

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