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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey

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CiteScore 2018: 0.83

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.595
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.631

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Volume 10, Issue 2


Of Closed Minds and Open Mouths: Indicators of Supreme Court Justice Votes during the 2009 and 2010 Sessions

Christopher M. Kimmel / Patrick A. Stewart / William D. Schreckhise
Published Online: 2012-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1540-8884.1485


In this article, we explore the possibility that Supreme Court oral argument matters, but not in the conventional sense. Instead of oral argument serving as a means for counsel to convince justices of their position, we posit that justices use oral argument to convince their brethren of their own views of the case under consideration. Accordingly, we hypothesize that justices will more readily interrupt and question counsel for the side with which they disagree, to counter counsels’ arguments and illuminate points that favor their own preferred outcome. We do so by examining the way the justices behave during oral argument in eleven salient cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2009 and 2010 terms. We then link the interruptions to the individual justices’ votes and to the likelihood of authoring opinions, before drawing conclusions and making suggestions for further research.

Keywords: Supreme Court; oral argument; interruptions; questions

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Published Online: 2012-07-31

Citation Information: The Forum, Volume 10, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/1540-8884.1485.

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