Attorney Arguments 2016/2017

The Supreme Court released its final argument calendar of the term with thirteen arguments slated for April. Although this term started out slow, most likely due to the Justices’ apprehension at the possibility of reaching equal divisions in cases, case grants picked up pace especially after the presidential election. Though we won’t see a new ninth Justice on the Court until the coming 2017 Supreme Court Term, some of the uncertainty regarding the Court’s direction has been clarified with the potential addition of Judge Gorsuch. The Court is now up to 70 arguments for the term (either already argued or scheduled). This is much in line with previous terms where we saw 69 arguments in 2015/2016, 75 cases argued in 2014/2015, and 79 cases argued in 2013/2014.

As with past terms many attorneys argued or will argue multiple cases this Term (the Supreme Court released lists of attorneys scheduled to argue through February. For March and April we base the likely arguing attorney on the attorney of record listed in the Supreme Court docket book). First splitting attorneys by representatives for petitioners and representatives for respondents, there are multiple attorneys that argued or will argue for either side.

For petitioners there are ten attorneys that have argued or will argue more than one case this term.

The attorney with the most arguments for petitioners this term is Lisa Blatt from Arnold and Porter with four.  After Ms. Blatt there are four attorneys with three arguments including ex-Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn, Hogan Lovell’s Neal Katyal, Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic’s Jeffrey Fisher, and Jenner & Block’s Adam Unikowsky.

Looking at the respondent side, there are eleven attorneys with repeat opportunities.
Neal Katyal is the only attorney with three or more appearances for both petitioners and respondents. The Acting-SG, Noel Francisco is scheduled for potentially the most arguments for respondents this term with six, although for the March and April we might see other attorneys from the Office of the Solicitor General some of these cases. The other two attorneys with three respondent arguments this term are WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman and Texas’ Solicitor General Scott Keller.

When petitioners’ and respondents’ attorneys are combined, we see there are twenty-five attorneys that should have multiple arguments this term.
Aside from attorneys for the U.S. Government, Neal Katyal is scheduled for the most arguments with six followed by Lisa Blatt with four, and Seth Waxman, Scott Keller, Christopher Landau, Jeffrey Fisher, E. Joshua Rosenkranz, and Adam Unikowsky all with three.

These attorneys have all argued multiple cases over the past several years, although some have argued more than others.

Including arguments for this term, since the 2012 term Neal Katyal has argued the most cases of these attorneys with nineteen arguments. Seth Waxman is close behind with seventeen arguments followed by Jeffrey Fisher with thirteen. Adam Unikowsky and Noel Francisco are both up and coming Supreme Court litigators (although as Acting-SG Noel Francisco has moved into new territory as a government representative) and each have argued several cases in recent terms.

Looking at arguments this term and those from previous terms, the patterns of experienced litigators arguing multiple cases each term appears a fixture of the modern Court.

On Twitter: @AdamSFeldman

Research Aid from: @SamuelPMorse

Updated: 2/22/2017

8 Comments Add yours

  1. John Bursch says:

    What is the list of attorneys (and how many arguments for each) for ALL non-US SGs since the 2012 Term (say 5 arguments or more)? E.g., Paul Clement does not make your last chart because he is arguing only 2 cases this Term, but I suspect his total dwarfs those of everyone else on the list. Thanks!


    1. Adam Feldman says:

      Absolutely right about Paul Clement John. His appearance count is unmatched. This chart only looks at the limited set of attorneys with 3+ non-SG arguments this term. When I refer to “these” attorneys I mean those referred to above.


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