Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer have nearly perfected the stylized debate they have from time to time in front of audiences around the country — such as their appearance last October at the University of Arizona. With a mix of bluster and bravado and occasional filibustering, the two present their conflicting views of statutory and constitutional interpretation and the role of judges, to the amusement and also, no doubt, the mystification of those listening.

Tuesday night, Scalia and Breyer reprised their debate before a hometown crowd at the Supreme Court itself, in a discussion sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society. The only intermediary was moderator James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Not usually a man of many words, Duff said even fewer than normal in the face of the avalanche of verbiage from the justices. More than an hour into the discussion, Duff dryly noted he was only on his third question. Politely, he did not also note that the justices had pretty much ignored his questions anyway.

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