Robert's Court Brings New Demeanor
An article in the NYT
says that the quickness and frequency of interruption (both of the presenting lawyers and each other) has consistently subsided compared to recent years during oral arguments in the SCOTUS. I had the pleasure of sitting in the galley of SCOTUS for about an hour when I was in high school and even at that young age it struck me that the justices seemed to be making arguments rather than letting the presenters do so. I am not a lawyer, but this change would seem to be a good thing to me. (HT: BenchMemos
Carter G. Phillips, one of the most active current practitioners, said the change had been so abrupt as to be a trap for an unwary counsel. "You have to be ready now to make some kind of affirmative presentation" in the opening minutes of an argument, he said.
When former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was on the court, he recalled, she asked the first question so quickly and so predictably that there was little point in preparing an elegant opening argument. "Now you might get three or four minutes" without interruption, he said.
Maybe I am missing something but even ideologic lefties would have to agree that this seems like a change for the better even if only in style and not substance. It will take a while to figure out how the substance has changed.