Shaking Up Justice Scalia’s Magic 8-Ball

March 25th, 2013

Apparently Justice Scalia had no idea what a magic 8-ball is. Tony Mauro reports on this comical exchange with his frequent standup partner, Justice Breyer in arguments in Oxford Health Plans v. Sutter.

 Breyer posited that the arbitrator “gets his Magic 8 Ball out and, whatever it is, he says, that’s what it means.” Scalia interjected that the arbitrator’s interpretation has to be plausible, but he seemed mystified as Breyer mentioned the Magic 8 Ball three more times. Breyer asked what if the arbitrator’s ruling “isn’t quite Magic 8 Ball?”

Scalia, who often jousts with Breyer during arguments, could stay silent no longer. “What’s a Magic 8 Ball?” he exclaimed. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” As laughter erupted in the court chamber, Breyer struggled to describe what it is.

“A Magic 8 Ball is, you have—that’s a little thing, it’s the—it’s a non-sportsman’s equivalent of throwing darts,” Breyer said, provoking more quizzical looks from Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. But the definition was close enough, and the oral argument continued.

Scalia really needs to shake things up more!