A Busy Year at the OSG


The United States Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) within the U.S. Department of Justice has its hands full with Supreme Court litigation.  Granted, “busy” is a relative term as the OSG has had fewer Supreme Court filings this Term than it has since 2010 (which will almost assuredly still be the case at the end of the Term as well).  The total number of filings is an aggregate of those filed in the petition and merits stages and including amicus briefs.  The figure below shows this trend.


The most filings for this period was in 2010 with 282.  By comparison the OSG has had 187 filings so far in the 2015 Term.

The OSG is dominant in all aspects of Supreme Court litigation and is no less so this Term.  The Court will hear 69 oral arguments this Term, which includes joined dockets that have been or will be argued concurrently.  The OSG filed 20 merits stage briefs and 28 merits stage amicus briefs this Term indicating the OSG has or will take a leading role in a majority of the cases before the Court.  The table and figure below break down the types of filings constituting the 187 for the 2015 Term.



This is no paltry sum compared with the total number of cases the Court will hear this Term.  The OSG does not only take a leading role in filing briefs and petitions but also, possibly even more so, in oral arguments.  The table and figure below break down the number of oral arguments the OSG has or will participate in this Term and compares this with the total number of oral arguments before the Court.



This table shows that the OSG has or will participate in an incredible 86% of all oral arguments this Term including all 10 oral arguments on the Supreme Court’s April calendar (for more on the Solicitor General’s busy April see Kimberly Robinson’s discussion in Bloomberg BNA).

The OSG is only able to do this with sufficient resources at its disposal.  Along with the Solicitor General, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., there are twenty other members of the OSG that will argue this Term.  The table below shows the oral argument participation by individual OSG attorney by month.


As the table shows, Solicitor General Verrilli is most involved at oral argument with six appearances this Term followed by Michael Dreeben with four.  As I will discuss in an upcoming post, some the decisions from cases argued this Term (including a few that are upcoming this month) may reshape Supreme Court precedent in dramatic ways.  The extent of the OSG’s involvement in these cases assures that the OSG will have an integral role in the formation of any new such doctrine.


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