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Source: p 2 of 2, 'Heavy Lifting', by Dahlia Lithwick BA JD.

Even [Justice Samuel] Alito seems to start to worry that the facts here have not been developed at trial, asking Bagenstos in rebuttal: “You really think that you could prove at trial that if somebody is injured in a recreational activity over the weekend, that they get light duty but a pregnant women does not, maybe?” [Professor of Law Samuel] Bagenstos says yes. Bagenstos concludes as follows: “You have to treat pregnant workers as just as valued employees as anybody else, and if you think it’s valuable to keep these employees on the job who are injured on the job because they keep valuable knowledge within the company, do that for pregnant women.”

1. Is something wrong with Justice Alito's bolded question? What of the relative clause that I greyed? Should it be:
2. 'that [THEN] they [SHOULD] get light duty but a pregnant women does [SHOULD] not?

3. What does the adverb 'maybe' at the end modify; it sounds isolated?

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  • That's the sloppy talk that comes out of the next-to-highest court in the land (the highest being the basketball court above it). Feb 1 '15 at 17:24
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    As a side note: In the United States (not sure how much this applies elsewhere, but this is about an American writing a column on a US website about a US court case), postnominal letters are generally never used for a bachelor's degree (of any kind) or a JD (this is more specific to JDs; lawyers in the US also don't use the title "Doctor" unless they have some other sort of doctorate as well). Practicing lawyers can put "Esq." after their name, but Dahlia Lithwick doesn't seem to which means you probably shouldn't.
    – cpast
    Mar 3 '15 at 17:09
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Transcribed speech is often a little less than grammatical, because people will sometimes change thoughts midstream.

"You really think that you could prove at trial that if somebody is injured in a recreational activity over the weekend, that they get light duty but a pregnant women does not, maybe?"

I would, if I were writing this as dialogue, change it slightly: "You really think that you could prove in court that, if someone is injured in a recreational activity over the weekend, they get light duty -- but a pregnant woman does not?"

Without more context, it sounds like Alito is asking Bagenstos if there really is evidence (suitable to prove in court) that United Parcel Service has a policy to give light duty to people who were injured "on their own time," but that UPS is refusing to make similar accommodations for pregnant women. The "maybe" is basically an intensifier on "you think you could" -- it reminds everyone that there's a question here, despite it being a rather long statement.

(These Judges are lawyers, after all. They probably think in paragraphs with footnotes and citations. Their spoken language is likely to be complex -- and not always grammatical, as some of those sentences get lost on the way from mind to mouth.)

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