Over at r/law on Reddit, someone asked the question: “What are the most amazing Supreme Court oral arguments of the past few years?” The user had their own opinion:

I discovered that the U.S. Supreme Court publishes audio of oral arguments online, which can be freely downloaded by anyone. I also discovered Oyez, which is a much better service than the Supreme Court’s own web site.

I went for a few cases I knew, like Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld. It was amazing, especially the heated dialogue between Paul Clement (arguing for the government) and Justice Souter. Clement is an intellectual powerhouse and his opponent, Neal Katyal was very cool under pressure.

Other Redditors chimed in with the following:

  • 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.

Some pretty good suggestions in there. The SCOTUS site also offers transcripts as well if you want to be able to just read through the arguments. Though, that loses the timing, cadence, etc. of the arguing counsel. Which is a big reason to listen to the arguments.

Anything left out? Is there some really compelling oral argument of the past few years that you thing is required listening?

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