This morning Cornell students, who chose to, attended a Supreme Court hearing. We were given tickets by Justice Ginsberg (a Cornell alum) letting us bypass the line into the Supreme Court building and sitting in seats reserved for the Justices’ “honorable guests”. Pretty cool. The oral argument was on some contract between Mattel Inc (the same company going through the toy recalls) and a company or government organization based in Oregon. The contract went through an arbitration hearing. After that, I lost track of what was going on because of all the legal jargon.
The room where the arguments are held is smaller than I thought with rose colored columns and maroon drapes. There are two giant clocks that hang from the ceiling and if there were only giant portraits of the justices behind their respective chairs, the room would look like something out of 1984 or V for Vendetta.
Listening to the oral arguments, despite not understanding the arguments, was nonetheless very interesting. It was quite an experience to see how the justices behaved as well as how the lawyers responded.
Justice Breyer, I couldn’t help but notice, was twirling in his chair during the beginning of the arguments and smiled a couple times to Justice Thomas who sits next to him. He asked many questions and joked a couple of times saying that this was the case of the century because it would take a century to debate about this case.
Justice Thomas didn’t ask a single question as he is known to do. However, he frequently called on the Marshal’s Aides to retrieve books (I’m guessing law books) for him to read.
Justice Kennedy asked a couple of questions but sat leaning back in his chair for most of the oral argument.
Justice Stevens and his bow tie looked like Tucker Carlson will in 55 years. Stevens asked no more than 3 or 4 questions about interpretation of the acts they were discussing.
Justice Roberts opened up the arguments and took to firing questions at the prosecution’s lawyer (though it is not called the prosecution in the Supreme Court). After the first fifteen minutes, however, he became pretty much silent and sat listening attentively.
Justice Scalia looks like that evil ogre Mr. Potter in What a Wonderful Life. He doesn’t warrant much more description.
Justice Souter has a Boston accent. I didn’t know that.
Justice Ginsberg went to Cornell, what else do I have to say. She was the first to ask a question though her style, probably more due to old age, was slow and contemplative. It was sometimes a little hard to understand her, but that could’ve been because of our distance from her.
Lastly, Justice Alito, the New Jerseyan on the court, asked one question during the oral argument and listened for the rest of the time though I could’ve sworn his eyes were looking up at the ceiling as much as mine were, and I could tell you all about the ceiling.