Quantcast

Tag Archives: Stephen Breyer

The Funniest Justice, week 6: International laughter

During oral arguments Wednesday in the case Chafin v. Chafin, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wanted to know whether a Scottish court, in determining someone’s habitual residence, would consider a U.S. court decision.

“I think they would pay attention to what other courts have said,” Breyer said. “Am I right or wrong? I want to know if I’m right or wrong.”

But instead of the arguing attorney giving him an answer, his colleague did.

“We have a brief in the case telling us that the question Justice Breyer is posing,” Ginsburg said. “They would say it’s irrelevant.”

“They would?” Breyer said.

“Justice Ginsburg, that is correct,” attorney Stephen Cullen finally said.

Well, thank for Justice Ginsburg’s answer,” Breyer replied. “She is very helpful.”

Breyer was the top laugh earner this week, adding three chuckles to his score in our ongoing tally of the term’s Funniest Justice. Justice Antonin G. Scalia earned two laughs to hold onto his solid lead in the race, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made the crowd giggle once.

Here is the full tally for the term so far:

Justice Antonin G. Scalia: 12

Justice Stephen G. Breyer: 8

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.: 5

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: 3

Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor: 3

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 0

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.: 0

 

Breyer robbed again

Poor Justice Stephen G. Breyer just can’t catch a break.

In the last year alone, Breyer suffered a broken collarbone in a bicycle accident, and he was robbed at machete point in his Carribean vacation home. Now comes news that Breyer’s Georgetown home was burglarized earlier this month.

The Washington Post reports that the robbers made off with silver valued at over $3,000. But fear not, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court said no Supreme Court-related documents were swiped.

For the latest Supreme Court news, see the Supreme Court Report on Lawyers USA online.

The Funniest Justice, week 11: Speedy justice

“Policemen frequently don’t arrest people for everything they might arrest them for,” Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out Wednesday during oral arguments in the case Reichle v. Howards. “I mean jaywalking, to take an example. There are all kinds of things where they just normally don’t arrest somebody. … I might sometimes have driven 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile zone. And I shouldn’t even admit this. I hope I get away with it.”

That comment earned Breyer one of the six laughs he received this week from the courtroom audience, making him the week’s Funniest Justice, and helping him chip away at fellow funnyman Justice Antonin Scalia’s lead for the term. With just three weeks of oral arguments left, can Breyer pull off an upset and best the three-time Funniest Justice champ?

Here are the standings for the term so far:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 44

Justice Stephen Breyer: 38

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 24

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 6

Justice Samuel Alito: 5

Justice Elena Kagan: 2

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

Breyer unharmed by machete-wielding robber in the Caribbean

A Caribbean vacation took a scary turn for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and his wife last week.

Breyer and his wife were unharmed after being robbed by a machete-wielding intruder in their Caribbean vacation home last week, a Supreme Court spokesperson said Monday.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told the Associated Press that  Breyer was in his vacation home on the West Indies island of Nevis with his wife, Joanna, and other guests. At about 9 p.m. Thursday night, they were confronted in the home by an intruder wielding a machete. The intruder took approximately $1,000 in cash and fled.

The robbery was reported to local authorities, but it is unknown whether an arrest has been made, Arberg said.

The Court is in its mid-winter recess, and the justices are scheduled to return for a closed-door conference Friday. Oral arguments are scheduled to resume Tuesday.

UPDATE: According to the St. Kitts Nevis Observer, FBI officials have traveled to the Caribbean island to investigate the incident.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Robert Liburd told the Observer that police are  “vigorously” investigating the matter. Liburd said he was appealing to the public to come forward with any information about the Breyer robbery as well as any information regarding the robbery of another foreign national vacationing on the island.

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

The Funniest justice, week 7: Fleeting laughter

It’s not often that Supreme Court justices opine about the way celebrities such as Cher and Nicole Richie speak. But during oral arguments Tuesday in FCC v. Fox, Justice Stephen Breyer did just that.

“What Fox was penalized for was two women on television who basically used a fleeting expletive which seems to be naturally part of their vocabulary,” Breyer said, drawing one of the seven laughs he earned during oral arguments this week.

This is the second oral argument week in a row that Breyer has led the score in laughs, slowly chipping away at Justice Antonin Scalia’s lead in the Funniest Justice Tally. Here are the standings after seven weeks of oral arguments:

Here are the standings after seven weeks:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 27

Justice Stephen Breyer: 23

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 11

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 5

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Samuel Alito: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 0

Breyer defends Supreme Court recusal process

A week after Chief Justice John G. Roberts defended Supreme Court justices’ process for deciding whether or not to recuse themselves from cases that pose a potential ethical conflict, Justice Stephen Breyer also weighed in on the debate in defense of the Court’s practice.

“There’s a code of ethics. It’s 24 volumes. It’s in my office. It’s up in the library. Before I have any case that involves ethics I go read it and see what’s there,” Breyer said Saturday at a Washington legal conference, according to the Associated Press.

As the challenge to the federal health care law is set to be heard by  the Court in March, some critics have called on Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from considering the case, and urged ethics rules to be revised binding the Supreme Court to the same recusal standards that other federal judges must follow.

Roberts, in his annual report on the judiciary, argued that the Court’s justices do consult the Judicial Code as well as other standards in deciding whether or not to recuse.

Breyer echoed Roberts’ sentiments.

“We are bound. We’re acting as if we’re bound,” Breyer said.

Also like Roberts, Breyer noted a key difference between Supreme Court justices and other federal judges: when lower court judges recuse, they are replaced. When a Supreme Court justice sits out a case, there is no replacement, and the decision can make a difference in the outcome of a case.

“That means I have to take with absolute seriousness the obligation to sit as well as the obligation not to sit,” Breyer said.

The Funniest Justice, week 6: Patently funny

“Look, anything can be transformed into a process,” Justice Stephen Breyer told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Wednesday during oral arguments in the patent case Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, “Look at those real estate ones, lawyers ones. I have a way of making a great argument in the Supreme Court. You know, you could patent some of your arguments.”

This was one of four funny comments from Breyer during this week of oral arguments, making him this week’s top laugh earner. Justice Antonin Scalia got three chuckles, while Justice Anthony Kennedy earned two laughs.

Here are the standings after six weeks:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 21

Justice Stephen Breyer: 16

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 9

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 3

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0

Justice Samuel Alito: 0

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 0

The Funniest Justice, week 5: Scalia swings at first pitch

When attorney Aaron M. Panner began making his argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of his client, the defendant in a RESPA case, he didn’t realize he was setting up a joke.

“It seems to me that there are two positions that have been articulated before the Court and both are inconsistent with the Court’s prior decisions,” Panner began his argument Monday in the case First American Financial Corp v. Edwards.

Without missing a beat, Justice Antonin Scalia jumped in.

“Not yours and his?” Scalia asked, referring to Panner and the plaintiff’s attorney, and drawing chuckles from the crowd.

Panner clarified.

“That of the plaintiff and that of the government, Your Honor. I should have been more particularized,” Panner said, drawing his own laughter.

Scalia’s quick quip was one of three laugh-inducing comments from the Court’s most senior associate justice, padding his lead in our Funniest Justice tally. Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer* each earned two laughs this week, and Justice Anthony Kennedy* also made it on the board with one laugh.

Here’s the running tally after five weeks of oral arguments:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 18

Justice Stephen Breyer: 12

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 9

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 1

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Clarence Thomas (still no peep): 0

Justice Samuel Alito: 0

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 0

*While DC Dicta usually goes strictly by Court transcripts in determining the laugh tally, this week we made an exception because we witnessed a laugh-inducing comment made by Breyer which was credited to Kennedy in the transcript. Specifically, during arguments in the case Hall v. U.S., we are quite positive that it was Breyer, no Kennedy, who said: “It’s like an Abbott and Costello movie.” (See p. 14 of the transcript). Luckily, Kennedy earned his own laugh in Setser v. U.S. (See pp. 18-19 of the transcript) so he should not feel robbed.

The Funniest Justice, week 4: Lazy laughter

During oral arguments Tuesday in the case National Meat Association v. Harris, the Justice Stephen Breyer asked if the Court had to “write an 11-part opinion” dissecting each individual provision of a state statute to determine if it was preempted by a federal meat inspection law.

“I’m not trying to get out of work,” Breyer said, drawing laughter from the audience. “I just want to know.”

Without missing a beat, Justice Antonin Scalia chimed in.

“I’d like to get out of the work, to tell you the truth,” Scalia said as the crowd laughed again.

This week, Scalia broke open a wide lead in this terms funniest justice contest, earning a whopping eight laughs during oral arguments. Breyer earned three, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg each made the crowd chuckle once.

Here are the standings so far:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 15

Justice Stephen Breyer: 10

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: 7

Justice Elena Kagan: 1

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 1

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 0

Justice Clarence Thomas (silence continues): 0

Justice Samuel Alito: 0

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 0