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The Funniest Justice, week 8: The great laugh of China

During oral arguments Wednesday in the immigration case Holder v. Gutierrez, Justice Stephen Breyer hypothesized about a legal permanent resident whose non-resident infant child would have to be deported back to their country of origin.

Justice Antonin Scalia interjected.

“But I suppose if they come with somebody else’s 6-month-old child, they would have to send that child back to China, too, wouldn’t they?” Scalia said. “Which would be very sad, but that would be the law, right?”

“Actually they came from Italy, in my hypothetical,” Breyer said to Scalia, drawing laughs from the audience and other justices.

Without missing a beat, Scalia brought it home: “They should not have sent him back to China, then. Why did they do that?”

That exchange helped Scalia get the most laughs – three – this week, making him the week’s Funniest Justice. It also helped him to add a bit of padding to his lead for the term so far. Here are the standings after eight weeks:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 30

Justice Stephen Breyer: 25

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 12

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 6

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Samuel Alito: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 0

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