"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mr. Karnick, Your Answer in Part . . .

Is right here:

New Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. yesterday sharply questioned a lawyer arguing for preservation of Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law, noting the federal government's tough regulation of addictive drugs.

At the outset, Chief Justice Roberts directed a barrage of questions at Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General Robert Atkinson before the state official could finish his first sentence.

"Doesn't that undermine and make enforcement impossible?" he asked Mr. Atkinson.

At one point, a flustered Mr. Atkinson said: "I'm starting to be backed into a corner."

It makes a difference what kind of intellect and experience you put on the court.

12 comments:

James Elliott said...

"It makes a difference what kind of intellect and experience you put on the court."

This is very true.

Of course, you omitted the part where Souter kicked Clement's ass all over the place.

James Elliott said...

Scotusblog has some good analysis of yesterday's proceedings.

Tlaloc said...

"At the outset, Chief Justice Roberts directed a barrage of questions at Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General Robert Atkinson before the state official could finish his first sentence."

Well that's just rude.

Given that the objection to assisted suicide is being predicated upon the commerce clause I thought you'd be on Oregon's saide Hunter. After all isn't a strict constructionists view that interstate commerce has nothing to do with doctors prescribing drugs within a state.

James Elliott said...

There's also the little matter of the 5:1 question ratio for Roberts: He asked Atkinson five questions to Clements' one. I'd say that's a pretty good indication that Roberts made up his mind first.

To be fair, his questions indicated an excellent amount of preparation.

Bookworm said...

Intellect matters but, as for experience, any experienced lawyer, with a good intellect, could and would have asked the same question.

Kathy Hutchins said...

He asked Atkinson five questions to Clements' one. I'd say that's a pretty good indication that Roberts made up his mind first.

No, it might be a good indication that Clements wrote an intelligible brief and Atkinson didn't. The Supremes don't waste time in orals settling points that were clearly answered in the essay part of the test.

James Elliott said...

"No, it might be a good indication that Clements wrote an intelligible brief and Atkinson didn't. The Supremes don't waste time in orals settling points that were clearly answered in the essay part of the test."

Not so. There lots of reasons to ask questions. Did you actually read anything about this case, or are you just knee-jerk reacting?

Hunter Baker said...

I'm making a simple point with this post. Oral advocacy before the court is tough and it is tough because really smart judges are grilling you. Scalia does it. Breyer does it. Rehnquist did it. You get the idea.

Roberts was fit because he was the best in the country at withstanding the grilling and winning cases both through briefing and oral advocacy. McConnell, too, was once voted best oral advocate for his Rosenberger argument. My guess is that Miers has done this dance about zero times.

You need somebody with this experience who can ask tough questions as a justice.

Bookworm said...

Pish tosh, Mr. Baker. Any lawyer does this dance constantly. It's also easier from the judge's side of the bench, because everyone is deferring to you, you're not likely to lose the case because of a verbal misstep, and there's no risk of contempt. Being in the driver's seat tends to promote just that kind of confidence in a legal give and take.

Matt Huisman said...

"Well that's just rude."

It may be rude, but its also standard operating procedure. I don't even know why they ask people to make an oral arguement anymore (as if anyone was going to allowed to read a prepared statement)...the whole point of standing in front of the court these days is to see if your arguements (from your brief) hold up when you can't set it up the way you'd like and a genius is trying to kick your head in.

"There's also the little matter of the 5:1 question ratio for Roberts: He asked Atkinson five questions to Clements' one. I'd say that's a pretty good indication that Roberts made up his mind first."

They've all made up their minds already, this is just their last chance to convince the others that certain facts deserve more weight/credibility than others. And they always spend more time tearing down arguements as opposed to restating solid ones that they agree with.

mdvoutlook.com said...

Just a thought. I seem to remember that Clarence Thomas never asks any questions, yet he's our hero.

Hunter Baker said...

That's quite true about Thomas, but he writes very provocative opinions, which is part of his legacy as a con-law guy. Miers is a commercial/private law type who has only very recently become more constitutional in focus.