Even though I should be hard at work on the two amicus briefs that my organization is currently working on, I’ve still found time recently to roam about the internet following bizarre Supreme Court memes. The most interesting thing that I’ve found recently is an article on the perennial debate over the correct pronunciation of the word “certiorari.” In 2001, Washington Post writer Charles Lane published an interesting documentation of the different Justice’s take on the pronunciation of the word and what might really be the correct answer. I couldn’t find the complete article on the Wash. Post website, but I did find it here.

There is clearly some confusion at the Court:

Justice Stephen G. Breyer says “ser-shah-rair-eye,” the last two syllables rhyming with “fair guy.” Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy, however, each pronounce the next-to-last syllable with a broad “a” sound (their version rhymes with “far cry”). Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor go with “ser-shah-rair-ee” (rhymes with “Tipperary”). Justice Clarence Thomas has been heard to pronounce the last two syllables “rahr-ree.”

Hint: the ancient Romans would have pronounced it with a hard ‘c’, kair-tee-oh-rahr-eye.

1 Response to “Supreme Court Throwback: How do you pronounce “certiorari”?”

  1. 1 Rosemary Rummler

    Actually, the ancient Romans would have pronounced it “kair-tee-oh-rahr-ee.” The same vowel’s in the second and the last syllable.

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