Ithaca, N.Y. — A Cornell law professor has published a delightfully witty parody play of the Supreme Court hearings over gay marriage on his blog.


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Written by professor Michael Dorf, “The Bonauto: An Imagined Dialogue of Plato” teases out a suggestion made by Justice Samuel Alito in oral arguments this week in the Supreme Court gay marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges.

Justice Alito said to attorney Mary Bonauto, of the side supporting gay marriage, that “ancient Greek society was not hostile to gay people … Yet the Greeks did not recognize same-sex marriage. Ergo, Justice Alito implied, the prohibition of (Same Sex Marriage) does not demean gay people,” according to professor Dorf.

In real life, attorney Bonauto did not bother to parry Justice Alito’s suggestion.

But in the blog post published on Tuesday, Cornell’s professor Dorf has great fun imagining what would have happened if Bonauto had responded. Dorf names his (very) short play “The Bonauto” after “the fashion of The Crito or The Phaedo.” (These are dialogues of Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher.)

The short play imagines ad absurdum arguments, refers to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “The Notorious RBG,” and includes some excellent dialogue about masturbation.

Here’s a snippet:

ALITO: What did Plato say about masturbation?

(JUSTICE) BREYER: I believe Plato condemned the “excess of self-love”. It’s an interesting question. Perhaps we should invite supplemental briefs.

BONAUTO: Uhm, which question would your honors like me to answer?

SCALIA: Mine. Always.

AUDIENCE: [Laughter]

NOTORIOUS RBG: I believe what Justice Scalia wants to know is what the Reconstruction Congress thought about what James Madison thought about what Plato thought about same-sex marriage.

AUDIENCE: [Laughter]

Read the full thing here. It is demonstrably and unequivocally more deft than the Supreme Court parody most circulated on the web: An entirely predictable Andy Borowitz column in The New Yorker.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.