In a sometimes chaotic oral argument Wednesday that exceeded the usual time limits, the Supreme Court struggled to sort out a death penalty case that pits the state of Texas against its former governor, President George W. Bush, in a battle over states’ rights and the scope of international treaties.

The argument in Medellin v. Texas, scheduled for one hour, ended up lasting an hour and 26 minutes, with justices asking a total of 176 questions. All three lawyers addressing the Court were allowed to blow past the red lights on the podium that signal the end of their allotted time and usually force advocates to end their arguments in mid-sentence, if not mid-word.

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