William Howard Taft said, “Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”
And so, An Associate’s Mind wondered, “What are the most amazing Supreme Court oral arguments of the past few years?”
With technology today, lawyers can download transcripts of the majority of court cases for free. It’s a great way to study the language and argument style of some of our history’s greatest legal orators.
- Snyder v. Phelps – Whether the First Amendment protected protests of public protestors at a funeral against tort liability. The Westboro Baptist Church folks.
- Lawrence v. Texas – Struck down the sodomy law in Texas. Held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Gonzales v. Carhart – Upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
- Jones v. U.S. – Currently under consideration. The Court is considering the question of whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on a motor vehicle violates the Fourth Amendment.
- Bush v. Gore – Ruled that the Florida Supreme Court’s method for recounting ballots was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- New York Times v. United States – Whether the constitutional freedom of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, was subordinate to a claimed need of the executive branch of government to maintain the secrecy of information.
- Brown v. EMA – Struck down a California law enacted in 2005 that bans the sale of certain violent video games to children without parental supervision.
- Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow – (1) Whether Newdow had standing as a noncustodial parent to challenge the School District’s policy on recitation of the Pledge, and (2) if so, whether the policy offends the First Amendment.
- Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US – Holding that the U.S. Congress could use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause power to force private businesses to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This Friday, when you’re struggling to concentrate, get inspired by some of Supreme Court “greats” of the past.
Reading transcripts from past court cases can not only help develop a lawyer’s own argument style, but they also serve as a useful reminder of and education on what is required in any successful litigation.
Once you’ve gone through some of these gems, locate audio arguments of successful cases. This will help you practice the proper cadence required of courtroom orators.
Ask your local court reporter where you can locate such audio files (see, for example, Utah). More than likely—in the twenty-first century digial world—they’re available freely online.
They say practice makes perfect, so download a few inspirational cases to your iPod and play them during your morning commute. Sometimes, in a bleak economy, a person needs reminders for why they pursued work in such a competitive industry.
Law is our society’s medium for the delivery of justice and hope; at least, that’s why Irving R. Kaufman said, “The Supreme Court’s only armor is the cloak of public trust; its sole ammunition, the collective hopes of our society.” Gain practice and pragmatic knowledge from the past.