Patterico's Pontifications

2/25/2008

What The Supreme Court Needs – More Clarence Thomas, Less Hot Air

Filed under: Judiciary — Justin Levine @ 12:15 pm



[posted by Justin Levine]

CNN explains why Clarence Thomas rocks.

Has there ever been a case where the issues and arguments haven’t been articulated enough in written briefs such that oral argument was absolutely necessary? Maybe so, but I’d wager it’s probably less than 5% of the cases the court hears.

I love the entertainment that Scalia provides in putting many lawyers (and fellow Justices) in their place during these sessions, but let’s face it, most Justices just like to hear themselves talk. I can get my Scalia entertainment fix just as easily from his written decisions.

16 Responses to “What The Supreme Court Needs – More Clarence Thomas, Less Hot Air”

  1. Perhaps if they had more CLERENCE THOMAS type they would never had made the infamous KELO DECESION and wouldnt have had the american public turning against these judicial idiots

    krazy kagu (6c49b1)

  2. I think this is true about oral argument at every level of Court. I rarely, if ever, add anything to the arguments I’ve made in my papers, and think it is an enormous waste of everyone’s time to force judges and attorneys to appear at oral argument.

    Most of the judges in the federal district where I practice only hear oral argument if the judge thinks it is necessary, which is rare. I think that is the best system.

    In state court, we have oral arugment pretty much no matter what – which is absurd in most cases.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  3. Read about Justice Thomas’ stance on this in My Grandfather’s Son (get it if you haven’t read it; awesome autobiography) and was glad to read about his “listening” stance again in this article. Refreshing attitude about what a SC Justice’s job is all about.

    Just imagine his intellect and clear thinking up against Hillary’s if she were ever (may God forbid!) nominated to the Supreme Court. His written decision’s run circles around hers. Gee, think she’d ever be silent listen through a case? LetmethinkHmmmmmmmNo.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  4. On second thought (am not home right now) is that actually in the book, Patterico or anyone? Maybe it was just in news reports.

    Anyway, you won’t regret getting the book if you like Justice Thomas. Bought a copy for myself but once our library system got numerous copies of a conservative book. Miracles do happen.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  5. If Justice Thomas thinks the oral agruments are a waste of time why does he attend these hearings?

    rab (7a9e13)

  6. decision’s run circles = decisions’d run circles around hers. Sheesh. I need a nap.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  7. If Justice Thomas thinks the oral agruments are a waste of time why does he attend these hearings?

    To annoy liberals?

    Old Coot (7ed4fa)

  8. If Thomas spoke as much as Scalia at oral argument, the ongoing liberal meme/whine would be “the evil conservatives are hogging all of the time for the Justices to ask questions.” Thomas beat them all like redheaded stepchildren sixteen years ago, and they’ve never stopped hating him for it.

    M. Scott Eiland (b66190)

  9. I had a case that made it to the Supreme Court. The client hired this John Roberts guy to guide us through the process.

    I got Roberts’ name from the client and called him, without having any idea that he was a former judge of the D.C. Circuit and had previously been a short lister for the Supremes. He anwered his own phone, was friendly and helpful, and gave no indication that he was the big shot I later found out he was.

    Anyway, according to Roberts, the Supremes don’t have a post-argment conference where they hash out their views of the case. They do have a session where they vote on the cases, but they do so in order of seniority with no real argument.

    As such, the oral argument is the justices’ only real opportunity to talk to each other about the merits. So most of the justices’ questions aren’t trying to get answers from the attorneys, rather they are calculated at trying to gather other justices’ support for one position or the other.

    Needless to say, during our argument Justice Thomas didn’t say a word (other than what appeared to be humorous comments to one of the other justices).

    Roscoe (15f94e)

  10. Comment by rab: “If Justice Thomas thinks the oral agruments are a waste of time why does he attend these hearings?”

    Maybe because he is a mensch. Out of respect for the Constitution and the law, for his colleagues on the Court, for the attorneys and their clients, perhaps? Is that reason enough?

    Iapetus (ea6f31)

  11. Thomas doesn’t think oral arguments are a waste of time – that’s Great Banana. He implies that listening to the arguments is more important than commenting on them.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  12. Comment by Apogee-

    If Justice Thomas implies that listening to the arguments are important then his silence might imply he has nothing to add to the oral argument.

    The comment by Iapetus that he sits there out of respect to the court is probably right.

    Anyone know how many hours an average week would consume of the Justices time?

    rab (7a9e13)

  13. Comment by rab – Try reading the link next time, your question was answered.

    “If Justice Thomas implies that listening to the arguments are important then his silence might imply he has nothing to add to the oral argument.”

    Your speculation about this one was too.

    Lazy liberal.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  14. in the recent “judge alex” case, the issue was whether the federal arbitration act extended to purely state court proceedings. scotus held 8-1 that it did, justice thomas dissenting. i agree with justice thomas on this one.

    assistant devil's advocate (840b51)

  15. I had a case that made it to the Supreme Court. The client hired this John Roberts guy to guide us through the process. I got Roberts’ name from the client and called him, without having any idea that he was a former judge of the D.C. Circuit and had previously been a short lister for the Supremes.

    Just in terms of the timeline, you couldn’t have hired John Roberts as a “former judge of the D.C. Circuit” — he went straight from the D.C. Circuit to the Supreme Court. If you hired him in the 1990s, however, it would have been after he was nominated (but blocked) to the D.C. Circuit by the first President Bush.

    Stuart Buck (253317)

  16. No. 15 – You are right, when I dealt with John Roberts he had been nominated to the DC Circuit, but did not make it onto the Court until years afterward. So much for relying on my (ever more faulty) memory.

    Roscoe (15f94e)


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