UPDATE: The argument transcript for Dean v. U.S. is up (much thanks to the Court’s press office for the heads up!) and the laugh tally has been updated. Justice Scalia still holds an six-laugh lead, but he and Justice Breyer each earned an additional laugh.
“You want to talk about what’s a sensible system and what is not a sensible system,” Justice Antonin Scalia said during Monday’s oral arguments in Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend. “In Massachusetts, [when] I was in law school, they had a compensation limit for wrongful death, but no limit for pain and suffering, for negligence. And the line was: ‘Back her up again! Back her up again, Sam, she’s not quite dead yet!’”
Those words drew one of three laughs Scalia got from the courtroom crowd this week, helping him maintain his six-laugh lead over Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. in the quest to be this term’s Funniest Justice.
Please note that this week we must add an asterisk of sorts to the totals, because they are based on the Court’s transcripts, but the record of yesterday’s arguments in Dean v. U.S. is not yet available on the Court’s website. When the record is available, those laughs will be included in the week 11 tally.
In the meantime, here are the laugh standings based on available Court transcripts:
Justice Antonin Scalia: 33 34
Justice Stephen Breyer: 27 28
Chief Justice John Roberts: 25
Justice David Souter: 11
Justice Anthony Kennedy: 10
Justice John Paul Stevens: 9
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 4
Justice Samuel Alito: 2
Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (Thomas hasn’t made a remark during oral arguments since Feb. 22, 2006, but he often laughed right along with the audience during this week’s funnies).