It’s fashionable to criticize the Supreme Court for all sorts of things, but I just wanted to pause the criticism and point readers to the transcript of the oral argument today in Medellin v. Texas. (I mentioned the case earlier today, I realize, but I have since read the transcript.) It’s an unusually good argument: the Justices were in fine form, asking outstanding questions that really get to the heart of a tremendously difficult set of issues, and the lawyers were outstanding as well. Great stuff.
There are a lot of interesting dynamics in that argument, but one worth noting is how Roberts starts off right out of the gate with a hypothetical designed to draw in Justice Kennedy. It seems to work, too, although I suspect Justice Kennedy was very much there already. It’s also worth noting (although hardly surprising to me) that the Executive power side of the case didn’t seem to go anywhere with the Justices. It is sometimes argued that Chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito are likely to accept all of the Bush Administration’s claims of executive authority; that seemed notably not to be the case here.
UPDATE: Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick offers up this pretty funny take on the case.