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U.S. Supreme Court

Chief justice has advice for lawyers faced with rapid-fire questions in oral arguments

Posted Jul 1, 2013 9:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. acknowledged on Saturday that the justices “overdo it a bit” with questions during oral arguments

Roberts said justices typically do not discuss cases before oral arguments, so they use their questions to “bring out points that we think our colleagues ought to know about.” The Associated Press, SCOTUSblog and the Hill’s Blog Briefing Room noted Roberts’ remarks at the 4th Circuit judicial conference, while How Appealing linked to the video.

Roberts said lawyers making their arguments “feel cheated sometimes,” according to the Hill’s blog account. “I do think we have gone too far,” Roberts said. “It is too much and I think we do need to address it a little bit.”

According to the AP account, Roberts suggested that, when faced with rapid-fire questions, lawyers shouldn’t even try to respond.

Roberts also said the court would hold three oral arguments on some days early in the term. The change will allow the court to “front load” arguments to allow more time for writing opinions, SCOTUSblog says.

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