A tone of ritualized obsequiousness pervades most briefs filed in the Supreme Court of the United States. Judges are powerful and, at the Supreme Court level, unaccountable. They wield enormous, arbitrary power not just over litigants but over the lawyers who appear in their courtrooms. So when most lawyers speak to a court, they speak with a painful awareness of the power dynamic separating the bar from the bench.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), however, is not most lawyers.