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