The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by Madeleine Brand

A forensic investigation on the hilarity of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 13MB

What's so funny about health care? The Supreme Court justices can't seem to stop joking about it.

The sitcom television season may be on vacation over summer, but the Supreme Court has been full of laughs this season. According to Supreme Court scholar Ryan Malphurs, the oral arguments the Court heard last March on the Affordable Care Act were among the funniest in the court's history.

Malphurs, along with graduate student Hailey Dresher, did a forensic analysis of the transcripts and tapes of the arguments. Justice Scalia was considered the most garrulous, with a tally of 88 jokes over the six hours of arguments. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts even told Scalia, "Enough frivolity."


Ryan Malphurs, trial consultant with the firm, Tara, Trask and Associates. Author of "Rhetoric and Discourse in Supreme Court Oral Arguments."