But what Thomas said is not clear, other than he appears to have joked about Ivy League lawyers.
The argument transcript only records a few words. It quotes Thomas as saying, "Well, he did not..." Several justices laughed in response.
Louisiana lawyer Carla Sigler replied: "I would refute that, Justice Thomas."
Two lawyers in the courtroom said Thomas was joking about Ivy League law school graduates, although one said it was at the expense of Thomas' alma mater, Yale, and the other said rival Harvard was the butt of the joke.
Thomas hasn't asked a question in court since February 22, 2006.