Originally Posted by alnorth
The oral arguments are pointless, except for entertainment value and to give them a chance to put their musings and back-and-forth argument on the record.
Nothing new is learned by the justices in oral argument. I wouldn't get rid of them though, because they ARE valuable for us in the public to get a sense of what the decision may be, but if a justice doesn't want to participate in the song and dance, that is fine by me.
Eight other justices think oral arguments are useful. Only Thomas will agree with you. I was able to talk to appellate judges in Iowa, and they all find oral arguments useful as well.
You use them to pick apart the briefs, develop hypotheticals focused on the future, and flesh out loose arguments contained in the brief. Or you can just sit back and be completely inattentive.
I'm not saying that oral arguments will change minds all the time, but focusing on the margins, it can sway certain leanings.