Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No Laughing Matter

Jay Wexler, a law professor at Boston University, has recently published a study analyzing the relative funniness of Supreme Court Justices using data from the Court's current term. Reportedly, Justice Antonin Scalia ranks first with 77 "laughing episodes." Justice Stephen Breyer came in second with 45 laughs.

I met Justice Breyer when I was in law school at Stanford -- Breyer and O'Connor are Stanford alumni, as was the late Chief Justice Rehnquist (the rumor was that Rehnquist and O'Connor had dated while in law school...) -- and I can see where his humor comes from. He struck me as an intelligent, quite likeable guy.

As for the front-runner, "Justice Scalia's numbers may similarly overstate his wit, if only because the courtroom expects quips from him and may laugh at the least provocation. Also, he tried hard," reported the New York Times.

At the other end of the spectrum is Justice Clarence Thomas, who produced nary a chuckle. I suppose one might make the leap to say that Justice Thomas is no laughing matter... then again, some jokes simply tell themselves.


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