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…

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…

A Dearth of Female Attorneys at Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Female attorneys have a long history arguing before the Supreme Court dating back to Belva Lockwood’s argument in 1880. While Lockwood’s argument helped proverbially break the glass ceiling for women to practice before the Supreme Court, such opportunities have proven difficult to come by as female attorneys only make up a small fraction of the…

A Record Set by the OSG During the Obama Years

The Solicitor General’s Office (OSG) has a special relationship with the Supreme Court.  In the role of adviser the Solicitor General is often referred to as the 10th Justice.  The OSG enjoys much higher than average success in bringing cases to the Court and is even asked to give its opinions on whether the Court should…

The Court’s Recent Lack of Support for the Federal Government’s Agenda

This is the first of a series of two posts examining the federal government’s litigation in the Supreme Court. While this post looks at the last several terms of government litigation, the next will analyze the government’s upcoming cases.   The federal government, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), is the most frequent…

Amicus Oral Argument Participation Over Time

Amici regularly participate in Supreme Court oral arguments.  Recently these appearances have been dominated by attorneys from the United States Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). While OSG attorneys have historically argued more cases as amici than other attorneys, there is much less diversity in the last decade.  In fact, the bulk of non-OSG amici…

Oral Arguments OT 2015: A Look Back

On Wednesday April 29th the Supreme Court Justices heard their final oral argument of the Term with McDonnell v. United States.  The Justices heard a total of 69 arguments from October 2015 through April 2016 (not accounting separately for consolidated dockets; links to all of the transcripts, audio, and information about all of the cases…

A Busy Year at the OSG

The United States Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) within the U.S. Department of Justice has its hands full with Supreme Court litigation.  Granted, “busy” is a relative term as the OSG has had fewer Supreme Court filings this Term than it has since 2010 (which will almost assuredly still be the case at the end…