“Mr. Rosenkranz,” Justice Antonin Scalia said to attorney Joshua Rosenkranz during oral arguments yesterday in Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan – the last argument of the term, “is the vote of a judge in a case like the vote of a legislator? Is that speech? Because judges are subject to ethical rules which prohibit their participating if there would be ‘an appearance of impropriety.’ If there’s anything vaguer than that I can’t imagine what it might be. Can I get out of all that stuff?”
The crowd laughed, and Rosenkranz tried to explain why judges were not off the hook.
“When it comes to judges,” he said, “we tolerate quite a bit more by way of chill of a judge’s vote precisely because judges are supposed to act judicial and purge their vote of all extraneous effects.”
“That’s too bad, because I would have been much more attracted to your position,” Scalia said, drawing another round of chuckles.
Scalia ended the oral argument season at the Supreme Court displaying his trademark snarky sense of humor, and he remains undefeated in DC Dicta’s Funniest Justice contest. Scalia drew laughter during oral arguments 48 times this term, easily beating out the very funny Justice Stephen Breyer, who earned 32 laughs total. Chief Justice John G. Roberts rounded out the top three with a total of 22 laughs.
Here is the final tally for OT10:
Justice Antonin Scalia: 48
Justice Stephen Breyer: 32
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.: 22
Justice Anthony Kennedy: 8
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 4
Justice Samuel Alito: 3
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 3
Justice Elena Kagan: 2
Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (Yesterday marked the fifth consecutive full term in which Thomas remained silent during oral arguments.)