A Lot at Stake: Amicus Filers 2017/2018

Whether they know it or not, large sectors of the population have interests in the outcomes of Supreme Court cases.  With cases dealing with issues ranging from voting rights to owner’s rights in retail sales, many people are affected outside of the immediate parties to each case.  These diverse interests along with more specific interests…

Looking Back to Make Sense of the Court’s (Relatively) Light Workload

There have been interesting discussions as of late regarding the Supreme Court’s light workload and how it is getting even lighter.  Evidence of this decline can be found in quantitative analyses of the Supreme Court’s work.  It is a not a subject addressed by any member of the Court.  The Chief Justice, for example, did mention…

A New Era in SCOTUS Textualism

Legal interpretation begins with a legal text. At least in theory it does.  While in practice this is not always the case, textualism has become synonymous with conservatism in recent Court eras primarily due to Justice Scalia’s reliance on the language of statutory texts.  In practice, a textualist approach is not limited by judicial ideology and…

Something to Talk About

Oral arguments have always been central to Supreme Court adjudication.  In early Supreme Court practice oral arguments were the primary means by which the justices learned about cases.  Currently, oral arguments convey less original information to the justices, but still are helpful tools for the justices to learn about dimensions in each case not brought out…

Help a Justice Out

While Supreme Court justices are often guarded about how they come to their decisions, there are occasions where they are much more transparent. During oral argument, it is not uncommon for justices to bluntly say to an attorney “help me -” followed by a certain request.  Instances where justices enlist attorneys’ help during oral argument present…

Decisions, Decisions

The other day Mark Sherman of AP reported an interesting statistic via Twitter (Kimberly Robinson mentioned this stat in Bloomberg Big Law Business post as well): this term would be the Court’s slowest in recent years for releasing the first two orally argued decisions.  I decided to examine the details behind this statistic, which I provide…

The Next Nominee to the Supreme Court

For all of the criticism the Trump Administration has received in recent weeks and months, one thing that Republicans almost universally agree upon is that President Trump has done well in reshaping the federal judiciary.  This distinction even led to the genesis of stress balls with the caption “But Gorsuch!” distributed at the most recent Federalist…

Major Players in the Lower Courts

Cases’ contours are primarily defined by the time they reach the Supreme Court.  These contours take shape through litigation in lower courts.  In the lower courts, judges make decisions that are by and large upheld as they are generally are left untouched.  Even if appeals courts wanted to take a larger role in the universe…

Who’s on the Case: Successful Cert Petitions 2017

The Supreme Court has its calendar set through January 2018 with ten cases already accepted for argument that are as of yet unscheduled.  The total number of case grants so far is 53, and with consolidated cases this will lead to 47 arguments.  This puts the Court on pace for one of the slowest grant rates…

Is a Recipe for Justice Kennedy a Recipe for Success?

The puns are endless with a case that goes by the name Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The stakes though are no laughing manner. If the Court decides all of the issues brought up in the case, boundaries of the First Amendment doctrine may be rewritten as could the defining lines between religious…

Name Dropping in Oral Argument

Supreme Court oral argument is the setting where attorneys get to present their cases to the justices. It is a chance for justices to ask questions and for attorneys to convey important information; especially information that might not be contained in the briefs.  Oral argument also functions as a setting for dialogue.  In this respect,…