Walter Dellinger Jumps the Gun at SCOTUS and Hilarity Ensues

October 5th, 2011

From oral arguments inĀ Hosannah-Tabor:

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Thank you, Ms. Kruger.

ORAL ARGUMENT OF WALTER DELLINGER ON BEHALF OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT MR. DELLINGER: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court -JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Dellinger — could you assume — could you assume for me that — is it -CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Mr. — Justice

Kagan -(


JUSTICE KAGAN: I feel like I missed something.

Wait till the Chief introduces you before you jump into Mr. Chief Justice!

Update: Bill Mears, who was at arguments, indicates that the transcript wasn’t entirely accurate. It seems that Kagan jumped in before Dellinger even got the Mr. Chief Justice out…

Often the lawyer will barely get those words out before a verbal barrage begins from the bench. But Kagan did not even wait for that, immediately asking experienced attorney Walter Dellinger a question.

Dellinger quickly glanced over at Chief Justice John Roberts, seeking some guidance. Kagan stopped. Awkward pause. She resumed talking. “Mr. Dellinger, could I assume …,” she said, and then stopped again. Another awkward pause as a mild buzz echoed in the ornate courtroom.

Then Roberts, looking grim, gestured with his hand and said, “Justice Kagan,” giving her discretion to now pose the question. She seemed puzzled at what was happening, saying, “I feel like I missed something,” with both her arms extended.