The Wide Arc of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court now hears around 70 arguments a term and each case tends to have issues unique from others on the Court’s docket.  After the Court’s merits docket is assembled each term though, similarities between cases become apparent and these similarities may present an area of law where the Court is more invested and…

Building a Merits Docket in 2018

The Supreme Court hears its first oral argument of the 2018 term on the first Monday in October (Monday October 1st).  Before then, on September 24th, the justices will sit down to what is known as the “long conference” where the justices will review petitions for the first time since June.  The number of petitions…

A Little Change Will Do You Good: Oral Argument Interruptions 2017

Although female justices have only served on the Supreme Court since 1981, a relatively short slice of the Court’s history, gender imbalances have existed in oral argument interruptions for many years with female justices bearing the brunt of them. These imbalances were identified in a blog post on Empirical SCOTUS with subsequent commentary from Stephanie…

Getting Rid of those Amicus Blues

Good writing makes a world of difference in appellate practice.  In an era where some scholars question whether oral arguments have very much utility, briefs, and especially amicus briefs, are thought to play a unique role in Supreme Court decision making.  The Court receives briefs in large numbers, with amicus briefs leading the way.  Cases with broad national repercussions may garner…

An Opinion is Worth at Least 1,000 Words

Supreme Court opinions come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some are short and sweet, others are dense, long, and hard to follow.  Some reasons behind relative opinion length are obvious.  Even though the justices tend not to grant cases with facile solutions, certain cases are more complex and involve extensive fact patterns.  Along with…

The Dissenting-est Dissenters on the Modern Court

The Court’s opinions have been sliced, diced, and dissected in various fashions over the years as scholars and practitioners look for overt and latent meanings in the Court’s texts.  An object of study has often been the dissenting opinion.  The dissent is an interesting point of focus because both because of its purpose and its…

Zubik and the Free Exercise Context

(image via The Atlantic) One of the most anticipated decisions of the current Supreme Court Term is forthcoming in the case Zubik v. Burwell.  Zubik follows in the footsteps of another recent case: Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014).  Both cases deal with First Amendment challenges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to…

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…

The First Nineteen

(image via Boston Globe) So far, this has been an odd and unique Supreme Court Term in several respects.  For instance, Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor all dissented in the same case (in DirecTV v. Imbrugia – Justice Thomas’ dissent was very different from Justice Ginsburg’s which Justice Sotomayor joined).  We’ve had a Justice pass…

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…