WASHINGTON

Justice Thomas finally says something in court – sort of

Justice Clarence Thomas did something at a Supreme Court argument Monday for the first time in nearly seven years – he spoke.

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 Feb. 22, 2006.

FRESNO, Calif.

Lingering cold threatens to damage $1.5 billion citrus crop

As an unusual cold spell gripped parts of the West for a fifth day, some California citrus growers reported damage to crops and an agriculture official said national prices on lettuce have started to rise because of lost produce in Arizona.

The extreme chill in the West comes as the eastern U.S., from Atlanta to New York City, is seeing spring-like weather.

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, where farmers are fighting to protect about $1.5 billion worth of citrus fruit on their trees, Sunday temperatures dropped to 25 degrees in some areas and stayed low longer than previous nights. Prolonged temperatures in the mid-20s or below cause damage to citrus crops.

“It was our coldest night to date,” said Paul Story of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, an association of the state’s 3,900 citrus growers. “I think mandarin growers are going to see a range of significant damage, enough that they will have to separate their crops.”

CHAPIN, S.C.

Teacher may appeal decision he be fired over flag stomping

A South Carolina high school teacher who talked glowingly about the U.S. and the importance of embracing freedom while stomping on an American flag in his classroom is still deciding whether to appeal a superintendent’s recommendation that he be fired.

Lexington-Richland District 5’s school board received an update Monday behind closed doors about Scott Compton’s lesson at Chapin High School, but didn’t take any action because Compton has until the end of next week to ask board members to consider his appeal, district spokesman Mark Bounds said.

Neither Compton nor his attorney was at the school board meeting.

Superintendent Stephen Hefner didn’t find a problem with the ninth and 10th grade English teacher’s lesson on how ideas should be greater than symbols, but instead was appalled with the bad judgment Compton used in defacing a U.S. flag to make his point, Bounds said.

“I was in the military 20 years. I will defend your right to burn an American flag in the public square to my death. But as a teacher, you cannot bring your personal biases into the classroom,” Bounds said.

– From news service reports