Briefy noted: sarcasm in the Court

A letter in the New York Times yesterday, from Ailan Chubb of Rio Rancho NM:

That the humor during oral arguments before the Supreme Court is deserving of analysis is interesting (“A Most Inquisitive Court? No Argument There,” by Adam Liptak, Sidebar column, Oct. 8).

I have noticed that sarcasm by one or more justices, and principally by Justice Antonin Scalia, is the prevailing sort of humor. Yet sarcasm is a known element of unfair fighting. It is destructive and takes away focus from the arguments. Some authorities call sarcasm anger couched as humor.

Given how certain justices use sarcasm in oral arguments, one would think that there is no backlog of cases in the courts; that certain justices have little respect for the enormous amount of tax dollars these proceedings cost; and that they aren’t mindful of the effect these decisions have on ordinary people’s lives.

Sarcasm, like verbal teasing, has a considerable aggressive component.

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