In the midst of a lively oral argument at the Supreme Court, the justices’ questioning of the attorneys at the podium sometimes overlaps, with several justices jumping in with different queries at the same time and talking over each other. The situation usually resolves itself fairly seamlessly and subtly, with one justice trailing off or explicitly deferring to the other. But a somewhat tense moment at the Court on Tuesday indicates that Justice Sonia Sotomayor may still be getting used to the rhythm of the questioning and the etiquette of sharing argument time with her more seasoned colleagues on the high court bench.

During arguments in United Student Aid Funds v. Espinosa, a case involving the discharge of student loans during bankruptcy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Michael J. Meehan, counsel for the respondent in the case, about the petitioner’s interpretation of a provision of the Bankruptcy Code at issue.

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