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U.S. Supreme Court

Alito’s Texas visit includes first pitch and comments on ‘comparatively unimportant’ oral arguments

Posted Jun 21, 2013 6:54 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game on Wednesday, then used a sports analogy at a bar speech on Thursday to describe oral arguments.

Alito’s baseball pitch was “just a bit wide of the plate,” the Associated Press reports. A diehard Phillies fan, Alito has also thrown out a first pitch twice for his favorite team, at spring training and at a regular season game. The Dallas Morning News asked whether Alito ever wore a Phillies jersey under his robe. “I’m going to take the Fifth on that,” Alito replied.

Speaking to the State Bar of Texas at its annual meeting on Thursday, Alito told of his initial plans on how he would conduct himself in oral arguments, the Associated Press reports. He wanted to ask real questions “with a question mark at the end,” and he wanted to allow the arguing lawyer to conclude at least a paragraph before interrupting.

Instead, Alito said, he found himself playing a “contact sport.”

“Trying to get in a question at oral argument is really like trying to grab an item that’s on sale at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving,” Alito said.

Though oral arguments are a visible part of the court’s work, much more time is spent reading briefs and privately discussing cases, he said. “Hearing oral argument is a small and comparatively unimportant part of the work that we do," he said.

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