Supreme Court Etiquette
Last week there was a hullabaloo about Justice Scalia’s chastisement of a lawyer for reading part of his argument. I wonder where that taboo comes from. In the British House of Commons, you get hooted at if you read a speech or a question–maybe there is a connection.
What Justice Scalia did, though, is no match for the act of turning your back to the advocate when you don’t like what he has to say. This used to be done by some of the more ornery Justices like McReynolds and Douglas. I suppose that is one way of making your vote clear. UPDATE: Learned Hand also used to do this to lawyers.
This gives me an opportunity to tell one of my favorite “urban myths.” Years ago Justice Byron White, who was not known for being cuddly on the bench, was one of the judges at a moot court at Yale Law School. He gave one of the students such a hard time with his questioning that the guy passed out. Supposedly, White looked at him and said, “I take it that you wish to reserve the balance of your time.”