October 6, 2009

The Supreme Court opened its new Term yesterday, and the big question, of course, is...

... how much did Sonia Sotomayor speak up?
... an inquisitive new justice... displayed no reticence.... she asked as many questions and made as many comments as...  was far more active Monday than in her first hearing as a justice...was part of an animated bench... Sotomayor's active questioning...
I guess it can't be helped. Everyone's hungry for something about the new Justice.

The case — Maryland v. Shatzer —was about when police may question of a person who has asked for a lawyer.  The basic rule is that the police must stop asking questions until the lawyer is brought in. But the problem here is whether there's ever an end to the proscription against more questions. What if years have passed? What if there is new evidence and a new investigation?
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. posed this hypothetical: What if someone was arrested for joy riding in Maryland, invoked his Fifth Amendment protection, and was never convicted? Could police in Montana question him as a murder suspect in Montana 10 years later?

When Davis said no, Alito replied: "And you don't think that's a ridiculous application of the rule?"

When Alito raised the hypothetical ante to a crime committed 40 years later, Sotomayor joined in.

"He is arrested for joy riding, he is let go, and you are saying that for 20, 40 years he is now immunized from being re-approached by the police?" Sotomayor asked.
So Alito asked a great question and Sotomayor repeated it.

Can we infer, then, that she didn't ask any interesting questions?

IN THE COMMENTS: Scott said:
Can we infer, then, that she is a parrot?
MadisonMan said:
Can we infer, then, that she is a parrot?

31 comments:

Mark O said...

No. The question was so interesting, she had to ask it for a second time. Maybe a better question is whether she asked any questions that had not previously been asked.

Scott said...

Can we infer, then, that she is a parrot?

MadisonMan said...

Can we infer, then, that she is a parrot?

AC245 said...

I'm not sure why, but the question seemed to encompass more wisdom and a richer life experience when she repeated it than when that white male originally asked it.

ricpic said...

Piling on. Five yard penalty.

traditionalguy said...

The role of a new Justice's questions is not Ceasar taking over the room. She is playing a proper supportive role and getting her bearings in a new group. So what's to ridicule her for in that? It's not like she is the commander over a hot war zone with troops dying every day and no plan except delaying a descision, which deserves our ridicule.

Skyler said...

Getting her bearings? It's not really a totally new world. She's been a judge for a long time. It's just a different bench.

I'm sure the question was just more interesting when asked by a wise woman from Puerto Rico.

traditionalguy said...

Skyler...A group of Justices is not an adversarial encounter. They can agree as well as disagree in questions. If she wants to eliminate the stupid miranda rule, then there would indeed be some fur flying and sharp one upmanship. But before she does a power play like that she will need to win some comity and mutual respect from among the Court members by going along with their lead for a while. It is simple group dynamics.

Skyler said...

Trad guy, I don't know why you addressed your comments to me. I made no such complaint about being adversarial. I just said that being a judge is not new to her, so she shouldn't really need to get her bearings.

Maguro said...

tradguy - I think the post is ridiculing the article rather than Sotomayor herself. As you said, she didn't do anything wrong, but it's fairly obvious that she didn't do anything praisewothy either. It seems kind of silly and condescending to talk about how "inquisitive" and "active" she was, even though the author couldn't come up with one example of Sotomayor asking a cogent question of her own.

Henry said...

Is she pining for the fjords?

Florida said...

I find it unsettling that in attacking the Supreme Court Ann Althouse here presents the same question posed by two different jurists, but only criticizes the question by Sotomayor and not the white jurist.

She never says the word "Spic," but I think the anti-Hispanic theme is quite obviously there.

just-russ said...

Looking at her past I think we could have had MUCH worse in an Obama Nominee. That said this article is utterly ridiculous but I guess they figured she was still "hot" news that they "had" to cover, rather than investigate any of the shady people in the white house or nag Obama to poo or get off the pot in Afghanistan.

There was nothing stupid in itself about her repeating the question (I imagine in an incredulous tone, I agree with her on this one!).

former law student said...

If the professor thought a justice showed her wisdom and intelligence by the perspicacity of her questions at oral argument, then she would have to agree with those who consider the taciturn Thomas to be a dolt.

She's been a judge for a long time. It's just a different bench.

Rookies are rookies, no matter what the level. At least she did not have to dress up as The Joker:

http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/2009/09/20/yankees-rookie-hazing-pictures/

Note that while all those players had excelled in the minor leagues, they have to show they belong now. And part of the process of initiation is deferring to those who are already there.

And that's what Sotomayor did to Scalia. At least he and Alito did not pour a bucket of Gatorade on her head. (AFAIK)

Jeff with one 'f' said...

MadisonMan FTW!

Jason (the commenter) said...

By parroting Alito isn't she showing whom she wants to impress? The interesting thing is that she's trying to impress Alito!

former law student said...

Whoops I meant Alito. By parroting Alito, she shows that she was impressed by the insight Alito exhibited, which shows deference and respect to the wisdom of her elders, even this junior elder.

tonejunkie said...

If the professor thought a justice showed her wisdom and intelligence by the perspicacity of her questions at oral argument, then she would have to agree with those who consider the taciturn Thomas to be a dolt.

YEAH!!

MadisonMan said...

Henry @ 9:11: I completely missed the possible Monty Python reference.

I am so not worthy.

PatHMV said...

My question is, how clearly did counsel answer J. Scalia's question? Did he just say "no" and move on? Perhaps counsel answered ambiguously, and J. Sotomayor appropriately wanted him to clarify his answer.

Or perhaps she was trying to signal to counsel that his answer was so absurd that he was risking losing even the brand-new, for-the-little-guy justice, so maybe he better think about back-pedaling a little bit.

In short, while it's not the most insightful question ever asked from the bench, it's not necessarily a mere parroting of Scalia's question.

Also, she is in the process of building relationships with her new colleagues. Finding a point of agreement with a colleague and highlighting it is a very common and successful method of forging positive working relationships when one is the new member of the team.

PatHMV said...

Obviously, I meant Alito, not Scalia, in my previous post.

Rich Beckman said...

The post begins with several snippets to indicate that Sotomayor asked many questions. Then one question is quoted and we are asked if we can infer from that one question that she had nothing interesting to ask.

So, no, we cannot.

AJ Lynch said...

Is joyriding a crime of some sort?

PatHMV said...

"joy riding" is a politer term more generally known as "grand theft auto."

In Louisiana, "joy riding" would probably be more properly classified as "unauthorized use of a movable." "Theft" requires proof that the thief intended to "permanently deprive" the owner of the stolen property. Joy riding usually involves stealing a car, driving around for a few hours or a few days, and then ditching it somewhere, and so does not necessarily involve an intent to deprive permanently. Unauthorized use of a movable is the same as theft (with a somewhat lesser penalty) and does not require proof of an intent to deprive permanently.

So yes, "joy riding" is a crime.

Henry said...

@Madison Man -- yours was better. Mine was abstruse.

rhhardin said...

Parrots are good at keeping control of the conversation.

There is a parrot living in a bar in Tijuana - I have this on excellent authority - who causes people to order more drink than they intended by sidling up to them, cocking his head, and asking, ``Can you talk?'' ...

... the human resentment of parrots, especially all the talk about their having devils in them and so on, springs not from their startling ability to utter human phrases but from their aggravating refusal to let you choose the topic. You know how it is. You go up to a parrot, and he's probably in a cage and you're not, so you feel pretty superior, maybe you even think you can feel sorry for the parrot, and you ask the parrot how he is, and he says something gnomic like, ``So's your old man,'' or ``How fine and purple are the swallows of late summer.'' Then the parrot looks at you in a really interested, expectant way, to see if you're going to keep your end up. At first you think you've been insulted, but a parrot is too cool to throw insults around, unlike a blue jay, and once you notice that, you start trying to figure out what the parrot means by it, and there you are. You haven't a prayer of reintroducing whatever topic you had in mind. That's why philosophers keep denying that parrots can talk, of course, because a philosopher really likes to keep control of a conversation
.

- Vicki Hearne, _Animal Happiness_ p.4

elHombre said...

Here's the ever-predictable fls gratuitously offering a dump on a conservative:

...then she would have to agree with those who consider the taciturn Thomas to be a dolt.

Let's hear it for keeping the string alive!

WV "slies" = You know, the slippery kind, Obama style.

elHombre said...

Despite concerns about Sotomayor's racialism, now that she has been confirmed I hope that she performs well and impartially as a law-driven justice.

She looks to have the stuff to do so. How cool it would be to have a great female jurist instead of just another ideologue.

elHombre said...

Florida wrote: [Althouse] never says the word "Spic," but I think the anti-Hispanic theme is quite obviously there.

Ridiculous!

former law student said...

a dump on a conservative:

No. Just a suggestion to consider the implications of a rule before advocating it.

Joe said...

I just assumed that when Sotomayor heard someone say something so unbelievable stupid, she just had to see how far the moron would go in defending that position.

This is one of those times you with Robers had brought that gavel down and said to Davis, "You are so unbelievably dumb, we are kicking you out of this room."