The usually staid and formal Supreme Court was hit with a surprise today when, during oral arguments, Justice Breyer used the robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris on Sunday to make a legal point.
Breyer expressed skepticism about the robbery, suggesting it never happened.
Justice Breyer made the comments early into the oral arguments of Lawrence Eugene Shaw v. United States, in which a California man convicted of stealing more than $300,000 from a Taiwanese businessman’s bank account claims that he didn’t commit bank fraud.
Mr. Shaw wants his conviction overturned because Bank of America was insured and did not lose any money in the scam, the New York Daily News reported.
When the argument moved on to a debate about the nature of fraud, Justice Breyer again mentioned Mrs. Kardashian West.
“I’m asking you,” the justice said, “if the local person comes to the door and says, dear Miss Kardashian, I am your local jewelry cleaner. Please give me your jewelry. She does. And that’s not fraud. He wanted to get the jewelry … He also believed that the friend had just loaned it for the evening, that she’s triple insured, that she won’t even lose any money because the publicity will be worth it.”
“I would have always thought from first year of law school, criminal law, that that was fraud, but perhaps I was wrong,” he added.
The case was one of the first oral arguments of this year’s Supreme Court term. Decisions will be handed down in the spring, the Daily News reported.
Early Monday, armed robbers reportedly broke into a private residence in Paris where Mrs. Kardashian West was staying, bound her and locked her in a bathroom before they took off on bicycles with her possessions. French police continued hunting Tuesday for five people suspected of assaulting the reality TV star.
Breyer is considered one of the funnier justices (Justice Scalia was apparently a real cutup), so it’s not unusual for him to try to lighten the proceedings a bit. But in this case, he may have been trying to show how ridiculous Mr. Shaw’s argument was. His suggestion of a hoax in the Kardashian robbery was similarly designed to denigrate the notion that because the money Shaw stole was insured, it really wasn’t robbery.
The Supreme Court is not about to become Comedy Central East. But its sort of nice to know that even Supreme Court justices can be human.