U.S. Supreme Court

Scalia Says Thomas Would Benefit by Posing Questions, Blog Reports

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Justice Antonin Scalia says there are only two originalists on the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of them would benefit from talking more at oral arguments.

Speaking at Pepperdine University School of Law, originalist Scalia said Justice Clarence Thomas would benefit by asking questions, according to an account of Scalia’s remarks by Benjamin Shatz, an appellate lawyer at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, posted at En Banc, the Los Angeles County Bar Association blog.

Scalia said questions during oral arguments probe weaknesses in lawyers’ briefs and prevent lawyers from simply regurgitating their written material. He also acknowledged that justices “use counsel as a shuttlecock” to try to persuade each other during oral arguments, according to the blog account.

Thomas has previously said that written briefs are more important than oral arguments. At an appellate practice institute last October, Thomas explained why he doesn’t ask questions. “I believe quite strongly we, as judges, need to take the approach we’re here to solve difficult problems, not debate with lawyers,” he said.

The En Banc blog also offered these details from Scalia’s appearance: Asked to name the opinions he is most proud of, he cited a confrontation clause decision. He said the job of federal judge isn’t as prestigious as it once was. And he credits his wife for his successful children and a reality check: She informed him he was confirmed 98-0 in part because of influence by Italian-Americans, and she calls him Mr. Clueless.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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