Analysis of the oral argument in Trump v. New York

The argument on behalf of the Trump administration in Trump v. New York—that the President has the power to exclude noncitizens from the Census for the purpose of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives—is too stupid for words, so here are some figures that give you a sense of how it went down.

First we examine how the Justices used their time at oral argument. In the figure below the Justices are ordered by total duration of justice-advocate interchange (longest at the top, shortest at the bottom) and that time is split between the Justice speaking (orange, left of the midline) and the advocate speaking (blue, right of the midline). For context, Jeffrey B. Wall argued the case on behalf of the Appellants (Trump) and on the other side, Barbara D. Underwood argued on behalf of the State Appellees while Dale E. Ho represented the private Appellees.

In this next figure we collapse the two respondent advocates together and calculate the number of words spoken by each justice. What is encouraging here is that we don’t see a tight clustering of Republican Justices separate from the remaining liberal Justices. Also note that the Justices as a group had more to say to the Petitioner, which is usually an indication that the Petitioner is going to lose.