Don’t Cite Me Like That

An interesting debate was reignited by the Chief Justice’s majority opinion in Minnesota Voter’s Alliance v. Mansky. This debate surrounds the effect of oral arguments, if any, on the justices’ decisions.  Here is one of the sections from Roberts’ majority opinion in that case that refers to oral arguments. In this example, as is the case…

One Opinion More Complex Than the Next

The Supreme Court finally appears decently situated to complete its decision making for the term.  Some holdups are still in play including the long since argued case of Gill v. Whitford.  Gill was argued 255 days from the next possible opinion release date of June 14, 2018.  Only 10 cases have taken longer to decide…

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…

Developing the Court’s Precedent 2016

Through the course of a single term, the Supreme Court went from a “boring” eight member body to one apparently itching to take on polarizing political issues.  This transformation took place in the Court’s first full term without Justice Scalia since 1986.  Some (including Justice Breyer) speculated that Scalia’s absence would have a large impact…

Five SCOTUS Decisions Making Waves in the Lower Courts

The 2015/2016 Supreme Court Term had its fair share of significant cases. Some of these cases have effected and will effect large swaths of the population. The ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, for instance, sets guidelines for acceptable state regulations on abortion. Evenwel v. Abbott clarifies how states may draw legislative districts, thus…

Professors as Amici

Amicus briefs filed before the Supreme Court are most commonly used as a tool for interest groups use to convey their positions (for a look at interest groups’ use of amicus briefs see this article by Professor Paul Collins). This is not the sole use of such briefs though. Non-party individuals and groups that have an…

The Most Effective Friends of the Court

Amicus curiae briefs abound in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The rules on filing are sufficiently loose that almost anyone with the necessary funds and that is able to follow the proper filing procedures can file an amicus brief.  According to Justice Ginsburg these briefs along with other secondary sources can aid the Court in its…

Gold Standard Cites

Publications and citations are essential to the research academic. They help separate experts from novices in a given field. They provide metrics for universities to gauge the quality of their professors’ scholarship. In legal scholarship there is a particularly meaningful measure that distinguishes law from other disciplines: citations in published opinions. Supreme Court citations to…

Redistricting Precedent in Light of Evenwel

The Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott this week – a case with vast implications for legislative districts.  Some see the decision as snubbing Republicans by ruling that states and localities should use total rather than voting population to draw these districts.  Other commentary views the ruling as sufficiently narrow to allow future litigation in the same…

Comparing Amicus Briefs in Evenwel v. Abbott

A friend of mine practicing in a large firm recently asked me about comparing documents for similarity.  While his interests are from a transactional standpoint, the same methods can be used to compare documents within or between cases.  To continue with the amicus brief trope from the last post, I thought it would be interesting…

Amicus Briefs and Oral Arguments in the Roberts Court

Do the Justices and their clerks do their homework by reading and analyzing amicus briefs prior to oral arguments? In preparation for a larger project, I thought it would be interesting to probe this question (this also seems timely given Adam Liptak’s column in the New York Times on a recent study examining amicus briefs). …