In a second day of historic oral arguments conducted by telephone because of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court again encountered few procedural hiccups in conducting their business, as the live broadcast of the proceedings almost seemed like it had been happening for years.
For a second straight day, Justice Clarence Thomas - who once went more than a decade from 2006-2016 without asking a single question in oral arguments - was instead a veritable legal chatterbox by phone.
"What has changed since this case was here last?" Thomas asked attorneys, in a case about rules related to federal funding for HIV/AIDS relief by overseas affiliates of U.S. non-profit groups.
Questions from Thomas on Monday broke an over year-long silence by the Justice during oral arguments.
In arranging arguments by phone, Chief Justice John Roberts has acted like a moderator, calling on justices by seniority to ask questions.
That is different than during normal arguments in the courtroom, where the Justices jump in at a time of their choosing, sometimes talking over each other in a bid to enter the fray.
While Thomas surprised court-watchers by again fully participating in the phone arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a second straight day seemingly had issues with something that's very familiar for people who do conference calls on the phone - the mute button.
"Justice Sotomayor?" Chief Justice John Roberts said, indicating that Sotomayor was next up for questions.
After eight seconds of silence, the Chief Justice repeated himself.
There was a noise on the line, and an apology.
"I am sorry, Chief," Sotomayor said, sounding a bit sheepish. "Did it again."
For years, the Supreme Court has stubbornly resisted calls by members of Congress to allow for live broadcast of oral arguments - whether with television cameras, or just live audio from the courtroom.
In two days of arguments so far, there have been no instances of grandstanding by any of the counsel making the arguments, or the Justices.