Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | March 9, 2013

Funny Moments Reading Supreme Court Transcripts of Oral Arguments

I have been reading the transcript of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, the Voting Rights Act case. (Link goes to a pdf.) Normally, one does not look for humor in Supreme Court transcripts. However, occasionally there are surprises.

So far, the most humorous part of the oral arguments in Shelby County came during the presentation of the Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, who was arguing for the constitutionality of sections 4 and 5 of the VRA on behalf of the United States. At page 48 of the transcript, Justice Scalia had just finished asking a question that stretches to two and a half pages in the transcript, at which point we get this exchange:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You have an extra 5 minutes.
GENERAL VERRILLI: Thank you. I may need it for that question.
GENERAL VERRILLI: Justice Scalia, there’s a number of things to say. …

In the unlikely event that I ever argue before the US Supreme Court, I hope that I can work in the sentence, “Justice Scalia, there’s a number of things to say.”


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