“Oral Arguments Are About the Justices”

The Washington Post‘s Robert Barnes reports that the Supreme Court’s justices are “talking more and listening less” at oral argument.

Oral arguments at the high court are a fast-paced hour of queries and hypotheticals, commentaries and critiques – and interruptions. Advocates trying to answer the barrage of questions quickly learn a truism of the court: No question is as important to a justice as the one he or she is about to ask.

“They’re way more active than they’ve ever been,” said Lisa S. Blatt, who has argued before the court as both a government lawyer and now as a private practitioner. “They ask a lot of questions.”

And if there is a faster pace to this term, she and others agree, the reason is as simple as the court’s new composition.

“As active as Justice Souter was, Justice Sotomayor is more active,” said Blatt, referring to David Souter, whom Sotomayor replaced. “And as active as Justice [John Paul] Stevens was, Justice Kagan is more active than that.”