The People’s Court: Live-streaming the Supreme Court

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Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Slade the Leveller
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    says:

    I listened to one a couple weeks ago. One thing that struck me was the time limit to present oral arguments. I wondered why there was a limit at all. It’s not like these guys are overburdened with cases these days.

    Also, are the orals just for show, and the justices rely on the briefs, or do they actually change minds?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Slade the Leveller
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      says:

      Also, are the orals just for show, and the justices rely on the briefs, or do they actually change minds?

      I don’t know that a really spectacular oral wins a case, necessarily… but I have seen really, really awful ones bomb cases.

      Citizens United, for example, had an absolutely *AWFUL* defense from the gummint. The guy stood in front of Souter and talked about how the law could be used to ban books. Everybody talks about Citizens United being decided 5-4… but only half of it was decided 5-4. The other half was decided 7-2. I have no doubt that that 7-2 might have been different had a skilled lawyer argued that day instead of the buffoon they picked. Heck, maybe that 5-4 would have gone the other way with a real lawyer.

      Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky is another one that will have your jaw on the floor. That lawyer was SOOOOO FREAKIN’ BAD.

      Justice Thomas says “nobody changes their minds… they all know how they’re gonna vote” and while I am willing to say that that’s true for 90% of the cases that stand before them… I think that 10% of them could easily be sunk by an inept lawyer.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Slade the Leveller
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      says:

      Cynical response: How long do you think a lawyer being paid by the hour will talk if not given a time limit?

      Less cynical: Nearly all of the SCOTUS appeals are discretionary; at least four of the justices have had to vote to take the case, and therefore must have made some sort of prejudgment about the case.

      But its also worth emphasizing that the SCOTUS does not see itself as a court of error, the important thing is not necessarily who wins, but how. Jaybird is pointing out that in Citizens United, it appears that the government was going to lose regardless, but when the government responded in arguments that the statute provided no limitation that would preclude book-banning, the statute ended up being invalidated.Report

  2. Avatar Em Carpenter
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    says:

    Who knows?Report

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