Lawyer who’s argued 73 cases in Supreme Court says the oral argument ‘completely changed’ after Scalia

If Justice Clarence Thomas is famous for not speaking during Supreme Court oral arguments, then his now-deceased colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia, was notable for asking questions.

A lot of questions.

“Oral argument … changed completely after he went on the bench. I will miss that,” Carter Phillips, who’s argued more Supreme Court cases than any other lawyer in private practice, told Business Insider in an email.

Phillips added: “Prior to him the normal argument might generate 10-15 questions in 30 minutes. Sometimes even fewer. He [Scalia] would ask 10-15 questions by himself.”

Not everybody thinks Scalia’s many questions were a positive contribution, though. We spoke to Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who argued a double death-penalty case in the high court not too long after Scalia’s 1986 appointment to the bench.

Despite being the youngest justice at the time, Dershowitz said, “He really dominated the conversation and the argument.”

“I think the nature of oral argument has changed — perhaps not for the better,” he added.

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