Commentary: Ginsburg recounts U.S. Supreme Court's crazy questions

By Kimberly Atkins

The Daily Record Newswire

During oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices can ask some wacky questions.

In a speech last week before a local bar association in New York State, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recapped some of her favorite doozies from the term just past.

"Questions from the bench ranged from the historical: '[W]hat [did] James Madison th[ink] about video games[?]'" Ginsburg noted, referring to Justice Samuel Alito's question in the violent video games case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn., "to the practical: '[I]sn't . . . evidence always . . . destroyed when . . . marijuana [once possessed by a suspect] is . . . smoked? Isn't it being burnt up?'"

That question was from Justice Anthony Kennedy in the search and seizure case Kentucky v. King.

"Colleagues have been fearful: 'Does al-Qaeda know all this stuff?'" she continued, a reference to Justice Antonin Scalia's query in NASA v. Nelson.

Another kicker, also posed by Scalia in Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano: "What do you think about Satan?"

Ginsburg observed that she herself "uttered none of the just-recited lines. For, as the New York Times reported, based originally on an empirical study by a former law clerk of mine, when it comes to oral argument, I am--quote--' the least funny Justice who talks.'"

[DC Dicta would like the justice to note that, according to our count, that is not true. Last term Ginsburg proved to be funnier than Justices Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.]

Published: Thu, Jul 28, 2011


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