Deference at Oral Argument

I’m reading Jeff Shesol’s new book on FDR’s Court-packing plan, and I learned something that I didn’t know. Through at least the 1930s, there was a tradition at the Court that when the Attorney General argued a case he would not be interrupted with questions from the bench.  I wonder how this practice got started and when it ended.  It’s amusing to think about that now — Eric Holder would get, what, 30 seconds of silence at most.

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4 Responses

  1. ParatrooperJJ says:

    When was the last time the AG argued a case before the SC?

  2. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Almost every AG does at least one. (If you were the AG, wouldn’t you like to do one?) I don’t know, though, when the last one was.

  3. Bruce Boyden says:

    I don’t know if it was the last one, but Mukasey argued U.S. v. Ressam in 2008.

  4. Scott says:

    Well, there were hardly any questions to any counsel in the 1930s, right? Counsel would speak for tens of minutes without interruption. So I think total deference to the AG (assuming that’s accurate) would have been a less radical departure from the norm than we’d expect.