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The Funniest Justice, week 9: The joys of taxes and edamame

After asking several questions in a futile effort to calculate a foreign tax rate during oral arguments Wednesday in PPL Corp. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, an exasperated Justice Stephen G. Breyer gave up.

“All right. I have said enough,” Breyer said. “My law clerks would have picked this up. They would have written it down and I will be able to go back with the transcript to study it, which I will do.”

That comment earned Breyer one of his five laughs from this holiday-shortened oral argument week, making him this week’s Funniest Justice – and giving him a real shot at overtaking Justice Antonin G. Scalia in our term-long tally.

But it was Justice Elena Kagan who was the breakout comedian this week, earning a career-high four laughs. During oral arguments in the patent case Bowman v. Monsanto Co., she drew chuckles by speculating whether a 10-year-old could inadvertently infringe a soybean seed patent by growing plants from edamame.

When attorney Seth Waxman informed Kagan that edamame cannot produce soybean plants, Kagan responded: “And I thought I was being so clever, too.” More laughs.

Here are the latest standings:

Justice Antonin G. Scalia: 27

Justice Stephen G. Breyer: 24

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: 8

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: 6

Justice Elena Kagan: 5

Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor: 4

Justice Clarence Thomas: 1

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.: 1

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 0

 

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