A highlight from Justice, Interrupted

The Experiment


Yeah. This is more perfect rod here with Julia Longoria. Hello. Hello, Julia. Hi. Okay, so we've been getting this question. From listeners. And then something I've always wondered to listening to the song we just heard the oh yeah, oh yeah. Who is that man who's singing so like soulfully and rhythmically and we located him? I understand that in your retirement, you might be doing some dancing. I dance now. At least once a week for about three hours. Alfred Huang Marshall of the Supreme Court from 1976 to 1994. He's a New Yorker, son of Chinese immigrants. He earned a bronze star medal in World War II. He worked in The White House and he loved to dance. What style? Falling dancing. Where I watch other people dance and steal some of their steps. I understand, too, you've even given a lesson or two at the court? Yes. Someone, one of the apparently he taught some Supreme Court staff had a ballroom dance, which is bidding, because as the Marshall of the Supreme Court, part of his job is to keep time. I'm the timekeeper. Oral argument at the Supreme Court is a bit like a dance. Each side generally gets a half hour. One lawyer starts it off. As soon as he starts to argue, or she, I start the clock rolling. It's a countdown clock. That first lawyer presents to the 9 justices and the justices kind of lead. They interrupt asking questions. When I get down to about 5 minutes, I press a switch in which a white light appears at an electron. When the first lawyer finishes, the other lawyer gets a turn. Same thing. They present justices ask questions, but each lawyer only gets 30 minutes. Now. That is the nightmare for him. For many, many attorneys who argue here. When they run out of time? Then I have to put the red light on. No excuses. You have to stop. Okay, well, that's a mystery solved. So the thing I wanted to talk about today is that the dance that Alfred Wong presided over. Sometimes it gets a little dicey. Okay? So I was working on our episode about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. By the way, is called sex appeals to few EPs back. Definitely take a listen. And I was listening to oral argument after oral argument after, oral argument, and I noticed something that kind of sent me down this rabbit hole. Okay, so I'm going to present you what I have as a mini episode. Cool. When I get to say that this is case number 11, three 45. Let's dive in. For sure against the University of Texas at Austin. And the story starts with this guy. Yes, I'm sitting in my living room on my couch. Mister justice. And members of the court. And I'm listening on my computer to the oral argument. The central issue here is whether the University of Texas at Austin. His name is Dylan schwarz. He's a lawyer now, but at the time he was a second year law student. A JD candidate at northwestern pritzker school of law. And he's listening to the case for homework. In the case itself doesn't really matter for our purposes. What matters is the rhythm of the conversation. Met the two tests of strict scrutiny. You have the lawyer, Burt Ryan, making his case. Which are applicable for crime before we get to that. And then you had a justice jump in. Because the court is supposed to raise it on its own. In this case, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So I'm sitting there listening. Dylan doesn't think much of this particular moment because he knows from his professor. I'm Tonya Jacobi, I am a Professor of law at northwestern pritzker school of law. That interruptions are just part of the deal. The justices do interrupt the advocates constantly, but that's expected. The rule is that the justices are allowed to interrupt the lowly lawyers, but not the other way around. No, there is this rule that says directly if a justice begins talking you as the advocate cease talking immediately. Lawyers are not allowed to interrupt, which is why, as he's listening, this other moment really caught his ear. Part of the damage claim was premise directly on the constitutional issue. It's a moment where the lawyer Burt Ryan is talking. Lesage. Justice Sotomayor steps in. He says that mere use of facts down. Injury, sufficient for standing. But then you still have an answer at how the same gets away from that. Give me another. Well, I start to kind of bicker. Ran the advocate in justice Sotomayor or essentially having an argument amongst themselves going back and forth back and forth. Virtually all white. And that is. And that is an assumption that has no basis in this record. But there is a typical assumption that's what it is. Because so much so that justice Sotomayor said let me finish my point. Let me finish my point. For a just to say, let me finish my point. That is that to me was very striking. He's right. For their education because he's a subordinate walking into their house. He's like, that's against the rules. And he keeps listening and he starts to notice that this moment kind of keeps happening. What does a critical matter question is whether your point? Again and again, the female justices just keep getting interrupted. And I just, I could not believe the amount of times that it happened. I remember I opened up a word Doc and I wrote and said, term, paper idea, men interrupting women on the Supreme Court. So at this point, my ladies in the house might be thinking okay, Dylan. I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here. Real shocker. If you were to ask my fiance about this, I think she would describe the whole thing as ironic. Yeah, I mean, other scholars from linguists to psychologists have shown that women get interrupted. I'm really happy for you. I'll let you finish. That's cool. This is I did not. In pretty much every forum. Do you mind if I ask this question? What's so striking about it? It's not safe. Is that there's enough information? Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, so men interrupting women, not exactly front page news, but no one had ever done a systematic quantifying of this phenomenon on the Supreme Court. So what Dylan and Tanya decided to do was take all the audio from Supreme Court years, 2004 to 2015. They beat it into the computer. This is hundreds of thousands of words. Actually, what they fed into the computer were transcripts, not actual audio, but whatever, and they did hand code a few additional years, including when Sandra Day O'Connor was on the court. But to identify the actual interruption points, they had the computer look for dashes. Every time anyone gets interrupted on the Supreme Court, two little dashes pop up and transcript. So Tanya and Dylan created an algorithm that would be able to count the dashes that were interruptions.

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