As Sotomayor wraps up her second full argument cycle as a Supreme Court justice, it has become clear that she is a prolific and fearless questioner. She can be tenacious and direct, bordering on harsh. She can be impatient when the lawyer does not answer her question precisely. She knows her stuff and clearly loves the give and take. All of which is to say, Sotomayor fits right in with her new colleagues, many of whom do exactly the same thing. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Samuel Alito Jr. can be every bit as dismissive, Stephen Breyer can be just as persistent and wordy, and Antonin Scalia can be just as critical. No, Scalia is more critical: During one argument last week, Scalia told an advocate, "The big obstacle I find with your position is that it doesn't make any sense."
The Journal provided a tally of the number of questions Justice Sotomayor "asked in the second two-week cycle of arguments this term and compared it to the number asked by Roberts and Alito, the other recent newcomers to the Court, during the comparable period early in their tenures":
As expected, Sotomayor came out on top. She asked 146 questions during the 13 November arguments this term, by NLJ's count, for an average of 11.2 questions per argument. Roberts came next, asking 110 questions during 11 arguments in the November cycle of 2005, for an average of 10 questions per argument. As for Alito, he asked only 45 questions in the 13 March 2006 arguments, for an average of 3.5 per argument.