Civically Valuable Performance Art Courtesy of the Supreme Court

During Tuesday’s oral arguments over Obamacare, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer apparently teamed up to pay tribute to the old adage, attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain amongst others, that it is “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.
Justice Thomas has attained a degree of notoriety over his career for not asking questions during Supreme Court oral arguments. Tuesday was not an exception.
And here’s a part of what Justice Breyer had to say about the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause, transcripted by Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner

I say, hey, can’t Congress make people drive faster than 45 — 40 miles an hour on a road? Didn’t they make that man growing his own wheat go into the market and buy other wheat for his — for his cows? Didn’t they make Mrs. — if she married somebody who had marijuana in her basement, wouldn’t she have to go and get rid of it? Affirmative action?
Carroll’s blog post includes a longer excerpt from Justice Breyer, a decrypting of what he was trying to say, and an explanation of his legal errors.

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Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
10 years ago

{Plagiarized comment removed.}

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Oral arguments are a farce anyway. They have no effect on the case. Just fodder for the cameras so that the lawyers have more hours to bill, the public feels more engaged, and the Justices can stay awake after their 50th railroad case of the year. I don’t blame Thomas one bit.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Too bad you don’t follow his example.

Monique
Editor
10 years ago

“I say, hey, can’t Congress make people drive faster than 45 — 40 miles an hour on a road? Didn’t they make that man growing his own wheat go into the market and buy other wheat for his — for his cows? Didn’t they make Mrs. — if she married somebody who had marijuana in her basement, wouldn’t she have to go and get rid of it? Affirmative action?”
… um, yes, affirmative action of SOME kind apparently put a semi-coherent person on the country’s highest court.

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
10 years ago

{Repost of plagiarized content deleted.}

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
10 years ago

Just for the record, my comments were deleted, because they contained actual facts, about Clarence Thomas not reporting over $600,000 of his wife’s income, from a anti-Obama-care group
“Facts are stubborn things” John Adams
Moderator’s note: This is Sammy’s deleted comment, which was posted without a link to an original article, or a reference to an original author, or quotation marks, or anything else that indicated that it was written by someone else…

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $680,000+ from the anti-Obama-care, Heritage Foundation, . Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “NONE” where “spousal non investment income” would be disclosed.

This is from a January 22, 2011 Los Angeles Times Article written by Kim Geiger…

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.

It should go without saying that plagiarized comments will not be allowed to stand. This is not a topic open for debate. — CAM.

brassband
brassband
10 years ago

Dan —
I’m not sure how oral arguments in SCOTUS could be “fodder for the cameras,” since that Court does not allow cameras . . .
It’s probably true that oral argument does not often determine the outcome of a case, but there are cases when it does. Will it in these cases? No one will know ’til June, and maybe not even then.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
10 years ago

Sammy,
What are you doing in Arizona?
I thought they didn’t like your kind down there?

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Just an expression, brassband, but you are right – maybe not the best one. OF course I know that and what I had in mind was the media frenzy surrounding oral arguments trying to speculate on how people did and how the justices will lean. I can’t imagine oral arguments ever having a real effect on a Supreme Court case, but I suppose theoretically it could and there is no way to know for sure.

brassband
brassband
10 years ago

Dan —
Although appellate judges often minimize the impact of oral argument, nearly 30 years ago two court of appeals judges participated in a study to measure it’s impact on them. The results showed that these judges changed their initial views on many cases after hearing oral argument.
An article about this study appears at 70 ABA Journal 68.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Is sammy really in Arizona-or a basement in Johnston?Does anyone care?
This guy must be a masochist.

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