A few weeks back you mentioned in passing that audio of Supreme Court arguments are available at www.oyez.org In the context you seemed to imply that they would be of interest mainly to lawyers.Great points. I think all sorts of people can benefit from listening to these arguments. People tend to react to the outcomes of cases, following their political preferences, and tend to assume that the Justices must just be voting politically. That's pretty much the way the press presents it. The arguments nicely demonstrate the legal dimension of the cases and can, as you say, make you appreciate the reasons that a case you don't like came out the way it did. And it is inspiring to hear a group of smart, intensely concentrating human beings discussing a difficult problem in such a precise and calm way.
I went and downloaded one anyway. I picked one pretty much at random and listened to the pros and cons of whether executing a 17 years old was cruel and unusual.
I was hooked.
I have since listened to 10-12 cases including Kelo, the cases involving detainees in Cuba and SC, Grokster, Lessig on copyright, Barnett on medical marijuana and a few more. They are fascinating. I thought that they would be full of Latin and complex legal stuff but for the most part they are not. Even a layman like me can understand most of them.
For example, I was rabidly against the decision in Kelo (expropriation in New London) and still am. But now at least I understand the other side of the argument which I did not before. I can even see why it was decided the way it was.
I like the strict 30 minute per side format with each side having to give their best shot with no bloviating. I like the justices questioning each side and seeing what they are thinking. I've probably learned more about how the Supremes work than all the civics courses and books have taught me. It is so much more alive than just reading the transcripts.
The purpose of this note is twofold. First, to thank you for bringing this to my attention. Second, I think you should blog about it. There are probably others out there who might enjoy and profit from this.
If this question is too nosy please just ignore it. I have wondered whether you are a lawyer (in the sense of actually being admitted to the bar). I know that you are a law professor but does one need to be a lawyer to be a law professor? For example, I teach engineering but am not an engineer. I do not mean anything by the question, you certainly come across as knowlegable on the law. Just curiosity.
To answer that question at the end: It's possible to be a law professor without going to law school, but I should think that any law professor that went to law school would have also taken the step of passing the bar, though perhaps not. In any case, I went to NYU School of Law and was admitted to the bar in New York, where I practiced law for two years (at Sullivan and Cromwell). I've been officially "retired from the practice of law" for many years.
ADDED: The reader is John R. Henry.