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The Funniest Justice, week 9: Defining amusement

During oral arguments Tuesday in the case Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, which considers whether translators are covered under a federal statute that awards costs of ‘compensation for interpreters’ to prevailing parties, the petitioner’s attorney pointed out that the responded relied upon a single dictionary: Webster’s Third.

“Webster’s Third, as I recall, is the dictionary that defines ‘imply’ to mean ‘infer” and ‘infer’ to mean ‘imply,’” Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out. “It’s not a very good dictionary.”

That was one of four comments Scalia made this week that earned laughter from the audience, making him – once again – the week’s Funniest Justice. Justice Samuel Alito made an unusually strong showing, earning three laughs, as Chief Justice John G. Roberts drew two rounds of chuckles. Justice Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan each earned one laugh.

Here are the latest standings:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 35

Justice Stephen Breyer: 26

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 14

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 6

Justice Samuel Alito: 4

Justice Elena Kagan: 2

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

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