Retirement Plan Blues

It is that time of year again. As we near the end of the Supreme Court term, we are experiencing another round of prognostications on whether Justice Kennedy will retire leaving another vacancy for the Trump Administration to fill (last year’s take on the possibility of Kennedy’s retirement can be found here).  About this time of…

The State of the States Before the Supreme Court

Rather than originating from a federal court of appeal like the majority of cases before the Supreme Court, the most discussed case of this term came from a state court.  Masterpiece Cakeshop was petitioned to the Supreme Court after a decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals and Colorado’s Solicitor General, Frederick Yarger, handled the argument for…

Slicing and Dicing the Court’s 2017 Oral Arguments

While the Supreme Court is lagging in releasing its decisions this term, the justices wrapped up hearing oral arguments almost a month ago.  The justices heard 63 oral arguments between October 2017 and April 2018.  Within that block of time many expectations were reaffirmed while several new paths were blazed. Aside from those who sit…

Out of Steam or Out of Time

For those following the Supreme Court, the notion that the Court is moving slowly this term has already been reiterated multiple times.  The first clear notion of the Court’s historically slow pace came with the timing of the Court’s second signed decision which was the modern Court’s latest second opinion released in a term.  Other analyses…

To Extend or Not to Extend

Occasionally someone will posit a question about Supreme Court practice to me dealing with an issue I haven’t examined. Recently, I had one such interaction with John Elwood of Vinson & Elkins.  John asked if I had looked at applications for extensions of time to file petitions for writs of certiorari. As I hadn’t looked…

Not All Appeals Are Equal

Every year the lawyer research and ranking company Chambers & Partners (sometimes mentioned as C&P herein) puts out a list of top appellate lawyers and firms (in a previous post I looked at some of the listed firms’ cert performance). Chambers uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodology to come up with its various…

How Gorsuch’s First Year Compares

In 1986 when Justice Scalia joined the Supreme Court, the bench looked quite different than it does today. In fact, none of the justices on that Court still sit on the Supreme Court as Scalia was the final holdout.  In 1986 the Court was composed of five justices who were predominately ideologically conservative and four…

An Opinion is Worth at Least 1,000 Words

Supreme Court opinions come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some are short and sweet, others are dense, long, and hard to follow.  Some reasons behind relative opinion length are obvious.  Even though the justices tend not to grant cases with facile solutions, certain cases are more complex and involve extensive fact patterns.  Along with…

The Interpretive Dance

In the Supreme Court’s first decision of the term, Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited language from the court’s 2010 decision in Magwood v. Patterson stipulating that “[w]e cannot replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress’ intent.” Indeed, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the 2015 decision Ross…

Slow & Steady

The Supreme Court is slowly plodding through the 2017 term. The court began the term at a historically sluggish pace, and although the justices have picked up the pace in certain areas, other signs point to the possibility that the court’s output this term will continue at the same rate. First, looking at the court’s…

BriefCatching 2017 Cert-Stage Filings

  Good writing quality is one of the greatest assets for attorneys practicing before any court.  While there is no universally accepted measure of good writing, software engineers are currently designing programs that measure writing quality in innovative and accurate ways.  In past, Empirical SCOTUS has employed off-the-shelf metrics for writing quality to compare filings…