A Sikh, a Jew, a Muslim and a Catholic: Funniest Moments from the Supreme Court’s 2014 Term


A Sikh, a Jew, a Muslim and a Catholic walk into a job interview at Abercrombie and Fitch.

This was a real hypothetical put to a Supreme Court practitioner by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. during oral argument in the religious discrimination case EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

And although Alito said he wasn’t trying to make a joke, many justices often do.

Boston University law professor Jay Wexler has spent the last decade tracking how funny the justices are (and, you know, teaching law and stuff) by counting each “[Laughter]” the justices get. In particularly dull fashion, the Supreme Court notes laughter during oral arguments as simply “[Laughter]” in the oral argument transcripts.

Wexler said “this term was like all others”—Supreme Court funny man Justice Antonin Scalia got the most laughs, followed by a “not-so-close” Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

However, Wexler said that “below the top two there were some interesting results” this past term.

Justice Elena Kagan “finally started living up to her [laughter] potential by tying” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “with 18 [laughs] for the year,” he said. “This was the first time since Justice Roberts took the bench that he was not all alone in third place.”

“Also, Justice Alito shockingly had a good year, with 9 [laughs],” Wexler said. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor “disappointed a bit with only 3.”

“Finally, Justice Ginsburg totally rocked out with 2 [laughs], which is about 1 or 2 [laughs] more than usual,” Wexler said.

Check out one of Ginsburg’s gut-busters in this Supremely Funny podcast, highlighting many of the justices’ funniest moments from their most recent term.

And if you haven’t had enough by the time you’re done, check out last term’s funniest moments too.

As for Wexler, he said the most humorous moment of this term “undoubtedly” came in Yates v. United States, a case about whether a fishing boat captain could be convicted under a Sarbanes-Oxley Act provision for throwing back illegally caught grouper.

“Perhaps Congress should have called this the Sarbanes­Oxley-Grouper Act,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy quipped.

Of course, his comment was followed by “[Laughter.]”

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