During oral arguments in the case Ricci v. DeStefano yesterday, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens asked attorney Christopher Meade if the controversial test at the heart of the job discrimination case was replaced by another, and the results ended up the same, would the results have to be certified or would some other action be necessary.
After some clarifications, Meade answered: “Absolutely.”
Then Stevens and Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. leaned forward and asked in unison: “Absolutely what?”
The crowd laughed, as did Stevens and Roberts. Then Meade replied: “Absolutely yes.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, apparently seeing the Who’s-On-First-type comedy opportunity, leaned forward and asked: “Absolutely, positively?” More laughter.
“Absolutely, positively,” Meade said.
“Absolutely yes – of what?” Roberts finally queried.
Meade finally got it. “Yes, they would have to certify the results,” he said. “Sorry I was unclear.”
Perhaps looking for some levity to balance the weighty legal issues before the Court this week – like whether race can be a factor in employment decisions, or when school officials can strip search students – all of the oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week were punctuated by lots of laughter.
We already know which justice got the biggest laugh, but it’s time to check in to see who is the funniest justice so far. With just one week of oral arguments left, Scalia is pulling away:
Here are the laugh standings:
Justice Antonin Scalia: 43 (Seven laughs this week alone, far more than any other justice)
Justice Stephen Breyer: 34
Chief Justice John Roberts: 27
Justice David Souter: 13
Justice John Paul Stevens: 12 (Passed Kennedy in the standings by getting three laughs)
Justice Anthony Kennedy: 11
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 5
Justice Samuel Alito: 3
Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (No oral argument question or comment from him since Feb. 22, 2006).