Tuesday was a big day at the Supreme Court. They looked at California’s ban on same sex marriages, approved by referendum then overturned by a lower court.
I hope they rule with the California court and allow gay marriages to be performed, but that’s not what this blog post is about.
Did you hear any of the oral arguments? No TV for the Supremes, but they do release audio files. I’ve listened to long segments.
If you’ve never listened to the Supreme Court in action you should. It is not what most of us expect from a court.
By the time a case gets to the Supreme Court the guilt, innocence, liability, etc has already been decided. The court looks at the law itself rather than what actually happened. All the courts rulings reflect the justice’s individual interpretations of the Constitution.¹
Instead of witnesses being called, the justices (except Clarence Thomas who never participates) quiz the attorneys involved. That’s the cool part.
There’s little Justice Alito and I, or Justice Scalia and I agree with, but I love listening to their arguments and pointed questions.
When I listen to Supreme Court arguments I feel proud to be an American. Of course I’m also petrified how the current court will rule on just about everything.
¹ – I know a few attorneys read this. Please help me out with whatever I just got wrong.
7 thoughts on “Listening To The Supreme Court”
You got it right. The only thing that I can add to what you wrote is that if anyone reading this is planning to go to DC- check to see if the Court is hearing arguments. If it’s a dull day (tax cases, bankruptcy, etc.), you might get a good seat. It’s really a majestic thing to watch. And you will feel nervous for some of the attorneys. For many of them, it will be their first and only time there. (For Ted Olsen today, it was like another day at work.)
One nit to pick- yes, the Supreme Court is concerned about the law. But they often will ask litigants “what is the remedy”? They will order lower courts to do lots of things. Have a new trial, but under our rules. Quite often, it never gets to that, but you see it happen. Can you tell I’m procrastinating?
Great blog post, Geoff. I agree with your views but I also agree that the court is a fascinating part of our legal system. NPR is perhaps the only media to cover their decisions thoroughly and they make use of lots of their audio.
I agree with you too. Not much more I can say about it.
The question I ask is does the “will of the people” mean anything anymore, when Proposition whatever is put on the ballot in CA (or anyplace)and, after being voted on legally, results are then overturned by somebody who got the supreme court to see things their way? I find it unfair when either side A or side B has to use a sympathetic court to get what it wants if it can’t get its results any other way. The “will of the people” is just a sham.
Mike, remember that segregation was also the will of the people. The Constitution trumps all. As with Citizens United, the court and I disagree.
Judge Thomas almost never asks questions, he broke his silence this past year and did ask one question!