U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil M. Gorsuch. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many Supreme Court justices have signature phrases and styles when questioning lawyers during oral arguments.

But Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil M. Gorsuch “win the prize” for their oft-used phrases, the Associated Press reports.

Sotomayor often interrupts a lawyer by saying “I’m sorry,” even though her tone suggests she isn’t actually sorry, the AP story reports. And Gorsuch often tells a lawyer he needs help understanding something, although “he’s often saying he’s not buying what the lawyer is selling,” the story concludes.

AP did a count for its story, published on Monday. Sotomayor said she is sorry 98 times last term and 30 times so far this term. And Gorsuch used various forms of “help me out” 25 times last term and 10 times this term.

The story also notes other signature styles. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is often the first justice to ask a question, and it’s “usually based on discrete facts in the case record rather than some lofty legal principle,” the story reports.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, on the other hand, is known for his “long hypothetical questions with a touch of self-deprecation,” according to the story.

Hat tip to How Appealing.


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