The Funniest Justice: Profanity is funny

stevens31“Maybe I shouldn’t ask this,” Justice John Paul Stevens said to Solicitor General Gregory Garre during oral arguments last week in the TV profanity case FCC v. Fox Television Stations, “but is [it] ever appropriate for the Commission to take into consideration at all the question whether the particular remark was really hilarious, very, very funny?”

The crowd in the Supreme Court building laughed, and Stevens continued. “Some of these things you can’t help but laugh at,” Stevens said. “Is that a proper consideration, do you think?”

“Yes, insofar as the Commission takes into account whether it’s shocking, titillating, pandering,” Garre said.

“Oh, it’s funny,” Justice Scalia said. “I mean, bawdy jokes are okay if they are really good.” More laughs.

Which brings us to the latest tally of the Funniest Justice so far this term. Scalia has broken it open, drawing laughs 10 times this month — four times during the Fox case alone — and giving himself an eight-chuckle lead over Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Roberts had his funny bone in motion as well, though, drawing six laughs this month. Here are the full standings:

Justice Antonin Scalia: 23

Chief Justice John Roberts: 15

Justice Stephen Breyer: 9

Justice David Souter: 7

Justice Anthony Kennedy: 6

Justice John Paul Stevens: 4

Justice Samuel Alito: 2

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 0

Justice Clarence Thomas: 0 (Thomas hasn’t made a remark during oral arguments since Feb. 22, 2006).


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