Amicus Policy Success in Impactful Supreme Court Decisions

Perhaps the biggest development in the modern Supreme Court alongside the great discretion the justices now have in dictating the cases they hear is the role of interest groups.  Over the past several decades the Supreme Court has increasingly become the forum for such groups and their attempts at persuasion; the object of persuasion being…

Supreme Court Movers and Shakers (Attorneys and Justices)

The consequences of certain decisions have repercussions far beyond those that affect the immediate cases.  While this is an indisputable aspect of decisions from courts of last resort, prognosticating the potential consequences of decisions is an art fraught with questionable inferences.  In a series of decisions the Supreme Court has a substantial policy impact. These…

A Chicken and Egg Problem

One of the more difficult questions facing Supreme Court scholars is trying to decipher the impact of the litigants. Given the secrecy with which the Supreme Court conducts the majority of its business, any effort towards understanding the decision making process is inevitably met with frustration.  The most recent insight we have into any of…

A Difference of Opinion

Since Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court in 2005, several pairs of justices have had notable disagreements in multiple cases.  This is at least in part due to the justices’ polarity of viewpoints and interpretive methods.  It nonetheless creates clear divisions on the Court as the justices have hardened viewpoints on many substantive issues…

The Invitation List

On January 18th, the Supreme Court released a short order requesting O’Melveny & Myers attorney Anton Metlitsky brief and argue the case of Lucia v. SEC supporting the decision below. The case examines whether administrative law judges of the Securities and Exchange Commission are officers of the United States within the meaning of the appointments clause….

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…