Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez...

This morning I was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court by oral motion of one of my colleagues in DC. Although I do not anticipate being involved in any Supreme Court action anytime soon, I now stand ready.

After being admitted, I remained for oral argument of the first case of the day - a terribly dry civil case regarding liability for damages to a railroad shipment. While the case may have been a yawner, the interaction of the court was quite interesting. As I expected, Justices Thomas and Alito asked no questions. I actually thought Justice Thomas was asleep for a little while, but he became much more lively when an aide appeared with his coffee. The junior member of the Court, Justice Sotomayor, however, did not even allow the petitioner to complete his first sentence before she began with her barrage of questions. On 2 occasions she even interrupted Chief Justice Roberts to ask a question. The Chief Justice did not appear very pleased on one occasion, but calmly waited for the attorney to answer Justice Sotomayor's question before stating: "Perhaps you can answer my question now."

A regular listener to Supreme Court arguments, this was my first time to observe oral arguments in person. I truly enjoyed the experience and hope to go back soon - preferably, when the Court has a hot criminal law issue on the docket.

B.W. Barnett