'Sad Morning' at SCOTUS as Court Goes Back to Work


Supreme Court Feb 19

Justice Antonin Scalia served on the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly three decades.

Today the high court heard oral argument for the first time since his unexpected death Feb. 13.

"Justice Scalia was always an active questioner from the bench whose wit and brashness rarely failed to evoke laughter from the gallery," Boston University School of Law professor Jay Wexler told Bloomberg BNA.

Wexler, who tracks the laughter each justice elicits during oral arguments, said that in terms of "raw data, no other justice really ever came close to matching Scalia.

Scalia's seat at the bench will be draped with black wool crepe, as is the court's tradition. According to the court, the "tradition dates back at least as far as the death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in 1873."

Scalia's Seat at Bench

It has been followed since, "on the death of each Justice, sitting or retired," the court said.

The memorial will remain until March 21, when the justices will assume their new seating arrangements. The justices sit according to seniority.

The cases argued today are Kingdomware Technologies v. United States, No. 14-916, a statutory interpretation case; and Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373, a Fourth Amendment criminal law case.

Scalia was known as a standard-bearer for textualism, a now-popular method of statutory interpretation.

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