Advocates that Drive the Justices’ Votes

Supreme Court scholars often debate the role of lawyers in Supreme Court decision making.  For an attitudinalist, the justices’ preferences make all (or at least most of) the difference.  According to this theory justices will often vote based on their preferred policy direction, which minimizes the role of advocacy.  More recent studies show that such…

The Heightened Importance of the Federal Circuit

This term the Supreme Court will hear arguments in its 100th case decided below by the Federal Circuit. The Court’s recent grant of the case Kisor v. Wilkie for argument also marks the fourth case granted from the Federal Circuit this term. This is by no means a small fraction of the Court’s total caseload….

Supreme Court All-Stars 2013-2017

Success in the Supreme Court is hard to define because it can be viewed in a variety of ways. Few attorneys have the opportunity to try cases there and even fewer argue multiple cases.  Part of success therefore is simply getting a case or cases to the Court. Once the Court agrees to hear a…

Attorneys and Firms for the 2017 Term

The current term at the Supreme Court has been anything but ordinary.  With two argued cases already ruled moot the justices are down to 61 argued cases for possible signed decisions. This would tie last term for the fewest signed decisions in the modern Court era.  Not only are the cases few and far between,…

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…

Not All Appeals Are Equal

Every year the lawyer research and ranking company Chambers & Partners (sometimes mentioned as C&P herein) puts out a list of top appellate lawyers and firms (in a previous post I looked at some of the listed firms’ cert performance). Chambers uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodology to come up with its various…

When Opposites Attract Ideology Falls to the Wayside

Lots of noise is made about partisan and ideological divides on the Supreme Court.  There tends to be less hubbub surrounding instances when justices that traditionally divide ideologically, vote together. Such surprising coalitions formed in the majority and dissent for the Court’s decision in last week’s Patchak v. Zinke ruling.  Although this decision was met with only…

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…

Who’s on the Case: Successful Cert Petitions 2017

The Supreme Court has its calendar set through January 2018 with ten cases already accepted for argument that are as of yet unscheduled.  The total number of case grants so far is 53, and with consolidated cases this will lead to 47 arguments.  This puts the Court on pace for one of the slowest grant rates…

A Changing of the Guard? (Probably Not But the Evidence is Mixed)

In an article I wrote last year I found several Supreme Court repeat players were much more successful than others in getting the Supreme Court to hear their cases. Many of these “Elite Cert Attorneys” argue multiple cases each term before the justices.  They all have high exposure to all aspects of Supreme Court process and…