Drilling into the Content of the Supreme Court’s May Arguments

The Supreme Court heard some of the most important cases of the term in a month when there almost were no arguments at all.  The Court canceled its March and April sitting due to COVID-19.  With flexible ingenuity, it then rescheduled ten arguments for May, which was the first time the Court had anything near…

Changes in Supreme Court Oral Argument Format: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

With a week of telephonic Supreme Court oral arguments under the belt we now have meaningful data points to compare old style oral arguments with the new framework. These new arguments were not without mishaps, however, as both justices and attorneys attempted to navigate this new terrain.  With the Supreme Court transcript data and audio…

Is Oral Argument Talking Time All It’s Cut Out to Be?

Supreme Court oral arguments are not all what they seem. While at first blush they may appear to be an opportunity for attorneys to make their arguments before the judges, they often become instances for the justices to test out their theories of a given case and to gauge other justices’ positions on given topics….

Competition to Speak During 2018 Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Oral arguments for the 2018 term are now complete. In a term where we have the potential to see heightened polarization on the Court like never before, oral arguments are impacted as well.  One indicator of this harkens back to the previous term where all 5-4 decisions made across ideological lines ended in conservative victories.  So…

Looking Back to Assess the Potential Future of Oral Arguments

Over the past several years the Supreme Court has undergone substantial change. Not only has the face of the Court shifted, but so has its center with the departure of Justice Kennedy. Oral arguments offer the only vantage into the interactions and dynamics between the justices and provide some context for how they might vote…

The Hottest Bench in Town

The practice of Supreme Court oral arguments has changed dramatically over time. Once multi-day events, Supreme Court oral arguments now typically take place in a one hour time span, only with some exceptions granted by the justices.  Not only has the time allotted to arguments changed but so has the justices’ engagement.  This increased engagement has…

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…

Slicing and Dicing the Court’s 2017 Oral Arguments

While the Supreme Court is lagging in releasing its decisions this term, the justices wrapped up hearing oral arguments almost a month ago.  The justices heard 63 oral arguments between October 2017 and April 2018.  Within that block of time many expectations were reaffirmed while several new paths were blazed. Aside from those who sit…

A Shift in Oral Arguments: An Update

I recently wrote a post where I looked at Justice Scalia’s final ten oral arguments and compared them to the first ten oral arguments after his death.  There have been several oral arguments since then and with the data from those arguments I am able to expand the timeframe of that analysis.  In this post I examine…

Justice Sotomayor Shaking Up Post-Scalia Oral Arguments

f (image via Los Angeles Times) It has been over a month since Justice Scalia, one of the most engaged Justices in oral arguments since he was confirmed to the Court in 1986, passed away on February 13, 2016.  For all of the commentary surrounding his passing and on the questions surrounding the process of…

Atypical Oral Arguments In Puerto Rico v. Franklin CA Trust

On Tuesday the Court heard arguments in Puerto Rico v. Franklin Cal. Tax-Free Trust a case that examines whether Congress precluded Puerto Rico from the ability to restructure its public utility debt. Specifically the case looks at whether Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code applies to Puerto Rico.  Much of the case and the arguments…