Oops, Sotomayor did it again in SCOTUS phone argument

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor may need a refresher course on how to use her telephone. For the second day, the justice had difficulty joining in the questioning during the Supreme Court’s telephone arguments.

The Supreme Court is hearing a second day of arguments by telephone with the audio available live to audiences around the world. You can listen to upcoming arguments live online here.

On Monday, when it was Sotomayor’s turn to ask a question, Chief Justice John Roberts called her name and then there was a long pause. Roberts called her name a second time before her voice was heard. She said, “I’m sorry, chief,” before beginning her questioning.

On Tuesday, Roberts had to again call her name twice before she came on the line. She said, “I’m sorry, chief, did it again.”

Monday was the justices’ first foray into the setup they settled on because of the coronavirus pandemic. After hearing Tuesday’s case, the justices will have four scheduled days of argument and eight cases remaining.

The highest-profile cases are scheduled for next week. That’s when the justices will hear cases including President Donald Trump’s bid to keep tax and other certain financial records private.

Along with Sotomayor, Justice Clarence Thomas also has done it again. The Supreme Court’s longest-serving justice has asked questions on the second day the high court is hearing arguments by telephone with the audio broadcast live.

Asking a question wouldn’t be a big deal for any of the other justices. Most ask a few questions in each argument. But that’s not Thomas’ style. Before Monday it had been more than a year since Thomas asked a question.

In Tuesday’s case about U.S. aid to foreign groups working to combat HIV/AIDS, Thomas started by asking government attorney Christopher Michel: “The respondent seems to argue that your guidelines … actually support their argument. What do you think of that?” Before the justices Tuesday was a free-speech case that has to do with whether certain organizations combating HIV/AIDS abroad have to denounce prostitution to get U.S. taxpayer money.

Thomas has been on the court since 1991. He has said he thinks his colleagues pepper lawyers with too many questions. He once went 10 years between asking questions at argument.

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