The shape of the Supreme Court bench

Andrew Hamm of SCOTUSBlog has a great post on the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court moving to a slightly curved bench in 1971. Summarizing a fascinating new article by Ryan Black, Timothy Johnson, and Ryan Owens in the Journal of Supreme Court History, Hamm relates how Chief Justice Warren Burger ordered the previously straight bench to be curved “so each Justice could see his colleagues.” Empirical study shows that the change led to a substantial reduction on Justices interrupting each other, with a particular benefit for the most junior Justices — who for the first time could be seen by all their colleagues on the bench.

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