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← SCOTUS Oral Arguments: Why Are They Important?

Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal discusses the importance of oral arguments for cases before the Supreme Court. Filmed at the Supreme Court Historical Society in Washington, D.C. For more SCOTUS and politics coverage from the PBS NewsHour, visit http://pbs.org/newshour


Showing Revision 2 created 09/19/2014 by Denise RQ.

  1. I think arguments in the court
    are quite important.
  2. They serve almost two functions.
  3. First, they give the justices a chance
  4. to press the lawyers on weaknesses
    and strengths in their cases
  5. to see how far the arguments
    that are being made will go.
  6. They come to the bench...
    maybe somewhat undecided
  7. or on the edge...
  8. and a number of the justices
    have said that oral arguments
  9. have helped them make up their minds,
  10. and, on occasion, even changed their minds.
  11. The second, I think,
    very important part of oral argument
  12. is that it's the first time the justices hear
  13. what's on their colleagues' minds.
  14. They do not discuss the cases
    before oral arguments.
  15. So, when they're sitting there
  16. and they hear colleagues' question
  17. they begin to know what the concerns are,
  18. and they even really talk
    to each other through the lawyers.
  19. Sometimes the lawyer standing there
  20. just becomes a funnel for all the questions
  21. that are going back and forth,
  22. and the justices pick up
    on each other's questions.
  23. So, in a sense, they're really beginning
  24. the decision making process
    as they listen to oral arguments.