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Fight over Supreme Court nomination shapes up in presidential race

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Before this week, Justice Clarence Thomas hadn't asked a question from the Supreme Court bench since Feb. 22, 2006.

The Supreme Court is shaping up to be a key topic in this year's presidential election. President Obama met with congressional leaders with the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Oval Office today.

The Supreme Court is shaping up to be a key topic in this year's presidential election. President Obama met with congressional leaders with the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Oval Office today. And Justice Clarence Thomas created a stir by breaking ten years of silence on the bench, asking a series of questions during oral arguments Monday.

Some observers have suggested it could be a move to exert more influence on the conservative wing of the Court.

"He may feel a strong responsibility for doing that [and] that could well be the reason he spoke up," said Allan Ides, professor of law at Loyola Law School.

Thomas quizzed an attorney arguing a case about domestic violence and gun rights. It was also the first questions since the death of his friend and ally on the Court, Justice Atonin Scalia, who died last month.

That vacancy – and how and when it will be filled – has become a hot issue for both Democratic and Republican candidates.

"Whoever is appointed to the court is going to change the Court dramatically," said Ides. "And so this is going to be a big, big issue on the campaign trail."

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