Now that the brief is written, it is on to oral arguments! If you are a 1L preparing for your first oral argument, you may find it helpful to listen to a hot bench or two.
The highest level for oral arguments is, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court does not allow its oral arguments to be broadcast live or filmed, leaving written transcripts and audio as the remaining options. You may already be familiar with SCOTUSblog, a site devoted to the Court and all its minutiae. And C-SPAN, well known for its broadcasts of political proceedings, also offers audio of selected arguments from the Court. However, the resource with the most complete set of oral argument resources for the U.S. Supreme Court is Oyez. At Oyez, you can listen to arguments or download podcasts of arguments as far back as 1968, with some selected cases going even further back to 1955.
Oyez is very user friendly to use. Consider Dothard v. Rawlinson, 433 U.S. 321 (1977), one of the Court’s decisions on the bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception in employment discrimination. For this case, Oyez provides audio of the oral argument and the opinion announcement, along with helpful details such as images of the justices, organized by who authored or joined the majority opinion.
Lower courts vary in how readily accessible they make their oral arguments. The federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has a no frills oral arguments site and, while the exact dates of coverage is unclear (possibly as far back as 1994), the collection at least goes far enough back to include the audio for its relatively recent BFOQ decision Henry v. Milwaukee County, 539 F.3d 573 (2008), about female corrections officers.
Here in Texas, we are fortunate that the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court both make oral arguments available in some fashion. The 5th Circuit provides audio back to 2008, and the Texas Supreme Court offers video back to 2007. Thus one of the 5th Circuit’s more recent decisions on the BFOQ, EEOC v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, 560 Fed.Appx. 282 (2014) is available for a listen.
For further reading on the art of oral argument, check out Tarlton’s related titles. One work particularly worth highlighting is A Good Quarrel: America’s Top Legal Reporters Share Stories from Inside the Supreme Court, edited by Timothy R. Johnson and Jerry Goldman. To add to the fun, this book comes with an online companion of audio clips of the arguments discussed.
Good luck with your oral arguments!