Oral argument scholars like Adam Feldman have categorized the Supreme Court justices’ behavior during oral argument using the approach-based method, labeling each as one-sided, even-handed, or restrained. This approach is too narrowly constructed. Scholars sometimes categorize justices in terms of the tools they use, which include questions, hypotheticals, declarations, interruptions, tone of voice, and silence (Feldman 2018a). Neither of these methods alone produce a nuanced analysis of each justice’s actions during an individual case or across a Term. As the Court’s composition and dynamics are continuously changing, scholarship on oral argument needs to adapt to become more effective in capturing the dynamics on the bench. Accordingly, this thesis builds upon other scholarship by analyzing the content of vocalizations executed by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch during the Court’s 2017 Term oral arguments in order to classify and better understand each justice’s overall style during oral argument. It seeks to fill the scholarly void on oral argument, particularly by crafting an analysis at the individual-justice level and at a comparative level to understand the Court’s motivations as an institution. This research attempts to surpass the limitations of isolated statistical analysis through its content-based approach and advocates methodological change.
Cichowicz, Corinne, "Oral Argument Tactics on the Supreme Court Bench: A Comparative Analysis of Verbal Tools Used by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch" (2019). Politics Honors Papers. 8.
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