Pardon the Interruption: An Empirical Analysis of Supreme Court Justices' Behavior During Oral Arguments

Timothy R. Johnson, Ryan C. Black, and Justin Wedeking

Published 2009, Loyola Law Review 55(2): 331-351 (Summer).


This paper addresses how U.S. Supreme Court Justices use oral arguments in cases they decide to converse with one another about the legal and policy decisions they must make. Our past work has focused on the extent to which Justices Harry A. Blackmun and Lewis F. Powell listened to questions and comments made by their colleagues during these proceedings. Here we use the database to go a step further. Specifically, we are interested in examining the extent to which Justices communicate with one another during oral arguments by analyzing empirically the oral argument transcripts of cases decided from 1998 through 2006. Our results provide specific systematic patterns of how Justices respond to one another during oral arguments.

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