‘Tough questioning’ as enactment of ideology in judicial conduct: marriage law appeals in seven US courts
Keywords:questioning, oral argument, ideology, appellate courts, stance markers courts, stance markers, US state supreme courts
AbstractThis study analyses the question-asking practices during oral argument of 50 judges in seven US state Supreme Courts as each court decided if its state marriage law was legal or if it violated its gay citizens’ rights to marry a partner of their choice. Background on appellate court, oral argument and the seven cases is provided. The analysis provides a discursive portrait of questioning during oral argument and identifies two stance-cuing but rare discourse moves that enacted a judge’s ideology. Then, ‘tough questioning’ and its connection to judges’ political ideologies, as well as the six features of questioning that comprise it are described. The analysis evidences that judges who voted against extending the right of marriage to gay litigants questioned the attorneys representing those litigants in a ‘tougher’, less sympathetic manner. Similarly, judges who voted for extending marriage rights to gay litigants questioned attorneys representing the defending state agencies in a tougher manner. In the conclusion we discuss the relationship among questioning features, stance and ideology and reflect on our usage of the native term ‘tough questioning’.
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