Here at Underneath Their Robes, Justice Antonin Scalia has a nickname of long standing: "The Rock Star of One First Street." But perhaps it's time to bestow a new moniker upon Nino: "The Seinfeld of One First Street"?*
Rumor has it that Justice Scalia, deeply disappointed about not even being considered for the job of Chief Justice, has been more disengaged from life at the Court ever since. Well, if Nino is dissatisfied with life inside the marble palace, maybe he should think about hitting the stand-up comedy circuit.
According to this NYT article by Adam Liptak, a fascinating and fabulous study by BU Law School Professor Jay D. Wexler has scientifically determined that Justice Scalia is the funniest Supreme Court justice. As noted in the lede of Liptak's piece, Justice Scalia is "19 times as funny as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
Breaking news: "Nino is much funnier than Ruthie." Gee, tell Article III Groupie something she doesn't already know! Guess this is what passes for news on a long holiday weekend. (Liptak's funny and well-written article has been hovering at or near the top of the Times's "Most E-mailed Articles" list since its publication.)**
Okay, in fairness to Liptak's excellent article and Professor Wexler's brilliant study (pdf), here are some more newsworthy tidbits:
1. RBG is physically capable of laughter. Wexler writes:
And, of course, it is widely believed that Justice Ginsburg doesn't even laugh herself, much less make others laugh. The notion that Justice Ginsburg does not laugh is mistaken. As one of Justice Ginsburg's clerks during the OT '98 Term, I can attest that she does, in fact, laugh. Maybe not often, perhaps not loudly or with great vigor and the wild waving of arms, but laugh she does.
(Prior to clerking for Justice Ginsburg, Professor Wexler served as a Tatel Tot and went to Stanford Law School.)
"Thank you," Justice Souter said, with characteristic self-deprecation, "but apologize to him."
Srinivasan, an Assistant to the Solicitor General, clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
3. The Supreme Court is getting funnier under Chief Justice John Roberts. Liptak writes:
The New York Times, building on Professor Wexler's pioneering work, analyzed the available transcripts for the term that began this October. The mood under Chief Justice Roberts has brightened, the analysis found, with the average number of justice-generated laughs per argument rising to 2.9 from 2.6 the previous term.
In the current term, the Times analysis found, there has also been movement in the funniness-of-individual-justices department. Justice Breyer has taken the lead, at 28 laughs, edging out Justice Scalia, with 25. They also tied in the largest-number-of-jokes-in-a-single-argument category, each squeezing five into a single hour.
Chief Justice Roberts made a strong early showing, coming in third, with 13.
Not only is the new Chief a total hottie; he's also hilarious!
* Actually, "The Seinfeld of One First Street" is already taken as a nickname. Here's a little known fact: Seinfeld once clerked for Justice Scalia!
No, not that Seinfeld; Gil Seinfeld, a Harvard Law grad and no relation to Jerry (as far as A3G knows). As one would expect from a Guidomaniac, Gil is fairly liberal -- he was the token liberal or "counterclerk" in the Scalia chambers that Term. (N.B. Justice Scalia doesn't always adhere to the practice of hiring one liberal clerk; check out the comments to this PrawfsBlawg post. Of Justice Scalia's four current clerks, all are conservative.)
** Speaking of the NYT "Most E-mailed Articles" list, please feel free to e-mail this AP wire story to 20 of your closest friends. (The last line of the piece, however, requires a correction; if you're reading this post, you know that UTR no longer requires a password.)