Humor on the Court

Sonia SotomayorLast night, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was on Colbert Report to hock her new book, My Beloved World. Because any interview with Colbert is necessarily orthogonal to everything, they spent the first half of the segment talking about bringing more spectacle to judicial hearings.

Sotomayor mentioned that some of the justices do make jokes. (She didn’t mention it, but Scalia is know for his jokes. Hence the humor-asshole connection.) Colbert asked who was the funniest judge. She demurred, but then added, “But do you know that there’s an article that actually measures the number of laughs? I’m pretty low on that scale.” Well my friends, I have found the data!

According to DC Dicta, the number of laughs this term breaks down as follows:

25 Antonin Scalia
19 Stephen Breyer
07 John Roberts
06 Anthony Kennedy
04 Sonia Sotomayor
01 Elena Kagan
01 Clarence Thomas
01 Samuel Alito
00 Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Remember: what passes for a Supreme Court joke is not what most people would call funny. Consider Thomas’ joke. It consisted of 4 words, “Well, he did not…” I could put the joke in context, but trust me: it would not help. Insiders claim it was a jab at Yale Law School. Apparently, Thomas is angry at his old law school for treating him like an affirmative action student. (Ain’t it nice when you can hate both sides in a conflict?) Of course, that makes the joke just as much a bitter remark. Again with the humor-asshole connection!

Regardless, Sotomayor is right in the middle of the field. Not that it matters. I’d take Ginsburg’s fine, open mind any day over the laugh-filled antics of authoritarian blabbermouth Scalia.

Here’s the clip:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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