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…

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…

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 Chicken and Egg Problem

One of the more difficult questions facing Supreme Court scholars is trying to decipher the impact of the litigants. Given the secrecy with which the Supreme Court conducts the majority of its business, any effort towards understanding the decision making process is inevitably met with frustration.  The most recent insight we have into any of…

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…

Name Dropping in Oral Argument

Supreme Court oral argument is the setting where attorneys get to present their cases to the justices. It is a chance for justices to ask questions and for attorneys to convey important information; especially information that might not be contained in the briefs.  Oral argument also functions as a setting for dialogue.  In this respect,…

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…

First-Timers in the Court

In recent years, a lot has been made of the repeat players before the U.S. Supreme Court – and rightfully so. They are involved in many high profile cases the justices hear, several have prior governmental experience…and they win. These attorneys include past-SG’s Seth Waxman, Ted Olson, and Paul Clement among others.  An understudied but…