Supreme Court Brief

U.S. Supreme Court building

Justices to Consider Trump Request to Delay Water Case

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday will consider the Trump administration’s request that the justices indefinitely delay briefing on a key issue in pending challenges against an Obama-era environmental rule that broadened the scope of protections accorded to U.S waterways.

American Bar Association office in Washington, D.C. June 23, 2014. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Blind Law School Applicant Loses High Court Case, But Vows Continued Fight

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a legally blind man's challenge to what he claims is the discriminatory logic-games portion of the Law School Admission Test. His lawyer said the legal fight will continue.

Judge William Pryor Jr..

Change of Heart in Georgia Costs Chicago Lawyer a SCOTUS Argument

By Tony Mauro |

Adam Mortara, a former Clarence Thomas clerk working at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, had been slated to defend a habeas decision authored by Eleventh Circuit Judge William Pryor. Then the Georgia attorney general’s office agreed to step up.

Cat Lamps and Van Gogh’s Shoes Make Cameo Appearance in SCOTUS Ruling

By Tony Mauro |

In its ruling Wednesday in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, an important copyright dispute over the design of cheerleader outfits, the U.S. Supreme Court decided words were not enough.

National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C.

Justices' Ruling on 'Acting' Officials Is Silent on Past Labor Decisions

By Tony Mauro |

A National Labor Relations Board dispute has once again become the crucible for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the rules for filling vacancies in executive branch positions. By a 6-2 vote, the high court ruled Tuesday that someone serving in an acting capacity in a position subject to Senate approval cannot continue in that position after being nominated by the president to the same job on a permanent basis.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Docket Chat: Meanwhile, Back at the Supreme Court

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court rarely alters its schedule for external events such as elections or blizzards, and confirmation hearings are no different. While Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's Senate confirmation hearing got underway Monday at the Hart Senate Office Building, across the street the high court was minding its business by hearing cases, with two arguments Monday and two each set for Tuesday and Wednesday. Five cases will be argued next week.

U.S. Supreme Court.

726 Women Carve a Legacy at the Supreme Court Lectern

By Marcia Coyle |

Who are the women who have argued at the U.S. Supreme Court throughout history? Author Marlene Trestman wanted to know, and so did Julie Silverbrook, executive director of The Constitutional Sources Project. Separately and several years apart, they began the hunt for answers.

The body of Justice Antonin Scalia arrives at the Supreme Court, on Friday, February 19, 2016.

Scalia's Papers, Including Emails, Donated to Harvard Law School

By Tony Mauro |

In addition to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's extensive papers, a trove of digital documents will go to Harvard Law School, his alma mater. The materials will begin to be made available for review in 2020.

Trump Turns to Scalia to Narrow Protected US Waters

By Marcia Coyle |

Search online for the U.S. Supreme Court's 2006 decision in Rapanos v. United States and various descriptions will pop up—including "quagmire" and "first official mess of the Roberts era." The case, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia's plurality opinion in particular, is central to President Donald Trump's push to rein in one of the most consequential regulations ever issued under the Clean Water Act.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

How Deep Research Boosted Chances for SCOTUS Victory in Texas Capital Case

By Tony Mauro |

With an assist from two students at Columbia Law School, the legal team for Texas death row inmate Duane Buck found that going the extra mile in the research phase paid off with a major win.

Transgender high school student Gavin Grimm poses in front of his home in Gloucester, Va, on Monday Aug. 22, 2016.

Trump Administration Casts Cloud Over Transgender Case at High Court

By Marcia Coyle |

As the Trump administration mulls announcing a solicitor general, a shift away from an Obama-era policy on the scope of transgender rights at public schools could affect the marquee civil rights case of the current U.S. Supreme Court term. That shift in policy, announced late Wednesday, has already cast more than the normal uncertainty over what the justices may do with the case, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. Oral argument is, for now, set for March 28.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Docket Chat: Where Have All the SG's Gone?

By Tony Mauro |

In the oral argument session that began today and ends March 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear only seven cases instead of the usual 12. The President's Day holiday on Monday accounts for some of the paucity, but the court's desire to slow down the docket in hopes of the arrival of a ninth justice may also be a factor. Sparse as it is in numbers, the February argument session also has few marquee cases.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

It's Time for John Roberts to Speak Up: Study

By Marcia Coyle |

President Donald Trump's attacks on federal judges and the declining public confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court suggest it's time for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. to become a more aggressive and visible advocate for judicial independence, three political science scholars contend in a new study.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, left, walks down the hallway inside the Russell Senate Office Building to meet with Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

A Guide to the Increasingly Political U.S. Supreme Court

By Tony Mauro |

Forget the romantic visions of justice embodied in the beautiful Supreme Court building and accept the court is a political institution, says Lincoln Caplan, author of "American Justice 2016: The Political Supreme Court."

United States Reports, the official reporter of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Where Have All the Supreme Court 'Pin Cites' Gone?

By Marcia Coyle |

If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were writing, it would be called "The Mysterious Case of the Supreme Court's Missing, Official Pinpoint Citation." When you cite to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, you're supposed to use the official record of case decisions: United States Reports. But there have been no U.S. Reports pin cites for high court decisions in the last three to four years. The court's "well aware of the issue" and says it's working to close the gap.

Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler.

Small D.C. Law Firm Maps Defense, Offense Plays Against Trump

By Marcia Coyle |

The public interest mission of Deepak Gupta's law firm in Washington is reflected in its three U.S. Supreme Court arguments this term—and it's the same mission that has drawn the small firm into the first significant suit against President Donald Trump and alleged conflicts of interest.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Nonlawyer Judges? SCOTUS Doesn't Seem to Mind

By Tony Mauro |

A judge who is in a position to throw someone in jail has to be a lawyer, right? Well no, and the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed this anomaly of American justice to persist.

Bronze memorial statue of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney on the grounds of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, MD.

Controversy Dogs a Late Chief Justice's Monument

By Marcia Coyle |

More than 150 years after his death, Chief Justice Roger Taney, author of the "Dred Scott" decision that upheld slavery, still stirs controversy for public officials—particularly in his native home of Maryland. What should be done, if anything, about a life-size statue on public grounds of the man who wrote one of the most infamous U.S. Supreme Court opinions?

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s Bench Chair and the Bench in front of his seat draped in black following his death on February 13, 2016.

How a New Supreme Court Justice Could Hit the Ground Running—or Not

By Tony Mauro |

By tradition, Donald Trump's nominee wouldn't vote on cases argued before their tenure began—but that's not an ironclad rule, court experts say.

Jerrold Ganzfried.

Leaving Big Law, a Holland & Knight Appellate Lawyer Flies Solo

By Marcia Coyle |

After spending the last nearly 30 years in Big Law and six years before that in the U.S. solicitor general's office, appellate lawyer Jerrold Ganzfried is going solo with little concern about the weather ahead.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (2009)

The Gaps That Led Chief Justice Roberts to Miss a Stock Conflict

By Tony Mauro |

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. realized he needed to step aside from ruling on Life Technologies v. Promega nearly a month after oral argument. Here's why conflict checks at the nation's highest court are an imperfect process.

The Slants.

How a Blog Post Led to a Supreme Court Argument

By Tony Mauro |

In 2011, Ronald Coleman banged out a frustrated entry on his popular trademark blog about an Asian-American rock band, The Slants, that was fighting to have its name accepted as a registered trademark. "Good luck with that, fellows," Coleman wrote on the blog, titled Likelihood of Confusion. Little did Coleman know that the post would trigger a chain of events that culminates Jan. 18 when his Archer & Greiner law partner John Connell argues pro bono before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of The Slants.

The body of Justice Antonin Scalia arrives at the Supreme Court, on Friday, February 19, 2016.

One of Scalia's Final Law Clerks Looks Back and Ahead

By Tony Mauro |

Jonathan Urick vividly remembers the last time he and his fellow law clerks saw their boss, U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. "We were laughing and joking. He was in very high spirits, making jokes," he recalled. Ten months later, Urick is a new associate at McGuireWoods in Richmond—one of seven former Supreme Court clerks working at the firm. He is the first of Scalia's final four law clerks to publicly speak about his time in Scalia chambers that ended abruptly after the justice's death on Feb. 13.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Opening a Door to Malpractice Suits Against the Veterans Administration

By Jamie Schuman |

When veteran Richard Milbauer sued the government for medical negligence, a federal court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. That decision could leave all veterans without a way to obtain judicial review of their malpractice claims against Veterans Administration hospitals, a petition for certiorari in Milbauer v. United States warns. Reed Smith filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of two law school clinics: the Antonin Scalia Law School Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic and the Baylor Law School Veterans' Assistance Clinic.

Rehnquist, Scalia and the Caroling Clerks

By Marcia Coyle |

Their clerkships span nearly two decades and hundreds of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, but they share one overriding memory of Christmas in the nation's high court—the annual carol sing-along led by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and later by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Seven Books for the SCOTUS Devotee in Your Life

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to provide fodder for new books almost daily, or so it seems. And lately, Supreme Court fiction has been rivaling nonfiction for compelling reading and insights into the workings of the nation's highest court. Here's a look at notable court-related books published in 2016, as well as some that will emerge early next year.

Judge Sri Srinivasan, of the District of Columbia Circuit.

In Supreme Court Protest Case, Circuit Judges Search for the Meaning of 'Harangue'

By Tony Mauro |

When five protesters rose one by one to disrupt a U.S. Supreme Court session in April 2015, an open mike captured the late Justice Antonin Scalia muttering, "Give them stiff, stiff sentences" as they were carried out and arrested. A year and a half later, the case against the protesters has not yet been resolved, and one part of the law under which they were indicted is under challenge on First Amendment grounds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments Monday in United States v. Bronstein on the constitutionality of the law that makes it unlawful to, among other things, "make a harangue or oration" in the Supreme Court building or on its grounds.

Justice Stephen Breyer (November 19, 2015)

Justice Breyer Laments Inmate's 40-Year Wait on Death Row

By Marcia Coyle |

Less than two years ago, Justice Stephen Breyer urged his colleagues to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the death penalty. In just one short week, he found additional cases to support his call. Breyer on Monday dissented from the court's refusal to hear the case Sireci v. Florida, a challenge by an inmate, Henry Sireci, who has been on death row for 40 years. Lengthy delays, Breyer wrote, "have become more common."

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The Mystery of the Lingering SCOTUS Cases

By Tony Mauro |

Nearly 11 months ago on Jan. 15, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in eight new cases. When January 15 of 2017 rolls around, three of those cases will still be pending on the docket without having been argued before the court. The court in effect confirmed that unusual circumstance on Monday when it issued its calendar for the argument cycle that begins Jan. 9 and ends Jan. 18. The three long-lingering cases were nowhere to be found on the calendar: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, Murr v. Wisconsin and Microsoft v. Baker.

Marc Elias, of Perkins Coie, addressing media outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, after arguing two redistricting cases, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and McCrory v. Harris.

A SCOTUS Juggling Act for Perkins Coie's Marc Elias

By Tony Mauro |

For most appellate lawyers, arguing at the U.S. Supreme Court is the capstone of their careers. For Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, arguing two separate but related cases before the high court on Monday was just one of several career highlights this year alone. An election law specialist and general counsel for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Elias in recent weeks has navigated Clinton's involvement in the on-and-off recounts sought by third-party candidate Jill Stein while also overseeing the recount of the gubernatorial race in North Carolina on behalf of his client, Democrat Roy Cooper.

Clifford Sloan, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (2009)

Advocates Beware: Justices Don't Want You Sneaking New Issues Into Your Cases

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court is getting fed up with lawyers who pile extra issues and arguments onto cases that were narrow when the justices first decided to grant review. Twice in the last month, justices scolded veteran advocates for deviating from or inflating the questions they had asked the court to answer in their cert petitions.

Supreme Court nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland meets with senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), at the senator's office in the Hart Senate Office Building on March 29, 2016.

Pro Se Lawyers Tilt at Senate Inaction on Garland, Iran

By Marcia Coyle |

Two pro se lawyers from opposite ends of the country, frustrated by a lack of U.S. Senate action, turned to the courts to confront two of the hottest political topics of the day: the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and the Iran nuclear agreement. The Iran case ended Monday. The D.C. Circuit is poised to rule soon on whether to force the Senate to act on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the high court.

Ahilan Arulanantham, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, ACLU Southern California Offices

MacArthur 'Genius' Set to Argue Immigration Case Before Supreme Court

By Tony Mauro |

ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulanantham will step to the lectern this week in a case that tests the due process rights of immigrants in detention.

Toni Massaro, professor and former dean at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, speaking at the Federalist Society’s 2016 National Lawyers Convention, at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

At Federalist Society, Scholar Casts Scalia's Sharp Rhetoric in Negative Light

By Tony Mauro |

Antonin Scalia is often regarded as one of the best and clearest writers on the court. But a powerful contrary theory was advanced that Scalia harmed his own legacy with language in his opinions that lacked empathy and was hurtful to segments of the public. Toni Massaro, professor and former dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, made that case at the Federalist Society's annual convention in Washington. The SCB spoke with Massaro about her observations.

Clarence Thomas.

Five Questions Justice Thomas Actually Asked at Oral Argument

By Tony Mauro |

Despite 25 years of writing opinions, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is probably known best by the public for his silence during oral argument. Thomas made headlines in February when he ended a 10-year silent streak by asking a question, though he has not asked another one since. A new study could alter the "Silent Thomas" narrative.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. October 9, 2016.

Could the Election System Derail, Again?

By Marcia Coyle |

Until the final count shows a clear winner of the 2016 presidential election, the specter of 2000's Bush v. Gore will haunt Election Day. Could it happen again, but this time before a divided 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court?

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.

E. Barrett Prettyman Jr., Hogan Leader and Longtime Mentor of Supreme Court Advocates, Dies at 91

By Tony Mauro |

E. Barrett Prettyman Jr., who died at the age of 91 on Nov. 4, knew pretty much all there was to know about the Supreme Court and the lawyers who argued before it.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor, Thomas and Alito Deepen Their Dispute Over Juvenile Sentences

By Marcia Coyle |

In a series of opinions over the past nine months, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. have faced off with Justice Sonia Sotomayor over life sentences for juvenile offenders. The tension is rooted in just how far to apply the court's rulings that have limited those sentences. The conflict surfaced again this week.

Justice Elena Kagan

Kagan Dishes on Taking Chances, Anger at the Court and Going to Law School 'For All the Wrong Reasons'

By Tony Mauro |

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was clearly pumped by the audience she was addressing in Virginia recently. Hundreds of law students looking for public interest jobs at the Equal Justice Works career fair took a break to hear Kagan's own story about her path to the nation's highest court. Along the way, she offered advice, life lessons, and stories from her life at the court.

Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells.

Docket Chat: Katyal Hits Stride in New Supreme Court Term

By Tony Mauro |

Former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday—the first of seven cases he is already scheduled to argue this term.

Rare Supreme Court Bar Meeting Will Honor Scalia

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court bar exists more in the imagination than in reality. It has no annual meetings or dues, and has but one visible, melancholy function—to honor the memory of deceased justices. The bar has done just that since 1822, and it will do it again at 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 4 when it convenes in the court's upper great hall to commemorate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died eight months ago.

Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor, in Dissent, Calls Out Colleagues on Death Penalty Faults

By Marcia Coyle |

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has never said or written that she believes the death penalty is unconstitutional. Indeed, her views on the death penalty remain unclear. Instead, Sotomayor has wielded her pen in dissent—sometimes alone—to focus on flaws in the application of capital punishment: from ineffective assistance of counsel to questionable lethal injection drugs to judges who override life sentences by juries.

(L-R) Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner.

Why it Took 12 Judges to Replace Scalia for Bryan Garner's Latest Book Project

By Tony Mauro |

In 2012, legal writing guru Bryan Garner proposed writing another book with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—this one on the role and value of precedents in judicial decision-making.

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. March 4, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Race Docket at High Court Runs Deep in New Term

By Marcia Coyle |

Race, never far from the U.S. Supreme Court docket, moved to the fore in the term's first week in two arguments that challenge its presence in the criminal justice system. The justices this term will grapple with race in criminal justice, electoral maps and lending discrimination.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Kim Kardashian Robbery Makes Hypothetical in Opening SCOTUS Arguments

By Marcia Coyle |

The U.S. Supreme Court's opening session Tuesday featured two hours of argument over the intent of jurors who gave inconsistent verdicts and what elements prosecutors must prove for bank fraud. The answers were as clear as the skies over the Caribbean as Hurricane Matthew spins up the coast. Not even hypotheticals involving such real-life characters as Kim Kardashian and Jesse James could clear the clouds in the courtroom.

Lisa Blatt.

Docket Chat: Women Take Lectern in Upcoming SCOTUS Arguments

By Tony Mauro |

The calendar for the first two weeks of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court is unusual in several ways, not the least of which is that nearly half of the lawyers stepping up to the lectern will be women.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on stage during a talk with Law Dean William Treanor for the Annual Dean's Lecture at Georgetown University Law Center in February.

How the High Court Came to Recognize the Jewish Holidays: When Ginsburg Called Rehnquist a Mensch

By Tony Mauro |

When the U.S. Supreme Court opens its fall term on October 3, the public won't see a typical First Monday in October.

Anthony J. Franze, left, and R. Reeves Anderson, right.

In Unusual Term, Big Year for Amicus Curiae at the Supreme Court

By Anthony J. Franze and R. Reeves Anderson |

Despite the unusual term, friends of the court continued to play a key role at One First Street. In our sixth year analyzing the Supreme Court’s amicus curiae docket for The National Law Journal, we found that amici filed more than 860 briefs, participated in more than 90 percent of merits cases, and, more often than not, seemed to capture the justices' attention.

U.S. Supreme Court. is Challenged on Two Fronts in Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

The two cases that involve the online classifieds company feature very different legal questions. But they both carry potentially significant implications for internet content providers in particular and, more largely, for the digital economy.

Frank Wagner

Remembering Frank Wagner, Who Helped the Supreme Court Go Digital

By Tony Mauro |

Frank Wagner, the former U.S. Supreme Court official who put the justices' decisions into publishable form for more than 23 years and in 2000 helped to put them online, died Aug. 28. He was 71 years old.

Possibly Heeding Calls for Reform, Supreme Court Justices Shed Stock Holdings

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court seems as intractable as ever on the perennial issue of allowing broadcast coverage of its proceedings. But there are glimmers of glasnost at the court—most notably the recent sale of nearly $1.5 million in stocks by justices apparently seeking to avoid investment-related recusals.

David Strauss, University of Chicago's Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

Too Many Supreme Court Clinics?

By David A. Strauss |

Recently the University of Chicago Law School, where I teach, established a Supreme Court and appellate clinic, in partnership with the law firm of Jenner & Block. In the Supreme Court Brief, Tony Mauro asked, quite reasonably: why? There are already Supreme Court clinics at other law schools. There are Supreme Court specialists at great law firms. And the court hears only about 80 cases a year. I am the faculty director of the new University of Chicago clinic, so let me try to explain.

U.S. Supreme Court.

Justices Pick Former Thomas Clerk for Supreme Court Debut

By Tony Mauro |

The U.S. Supreme Court recently appointed Chicago lawyer Adam Mortara to argue in an upcoming case brought by Travis Beckles, a Miami man challenging the federal sentencing guidelines for career offenders. In may seem like an odd fit for Mortara, a trial lawyer at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott who specializes in intellectual property cases and has never argued before the high court.

The U.S. Supreme Court divided 4-4 in Hawkins v. Community Bank.

The Costly Fallout of a Deadlocked Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

In the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that ends in a deadlock has no precedential value, but it does have consequences. Consider Valerie Hawkins and Janice Patterson. After an unfavorable decision was affirmed in March by a divided Supreme Court, the women, petitioners now face multimillion-dollar judgments, according to their lawyer. Both are preparing for bankruptcy.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Defamation Case Tests Scalia's Least Favorite Supreme Court Precedent

By Tony Mauro |

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would have loved to take on the case of Armstrong v. Thompson, now before the court. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be interested too. If granted, it would be the first time in decades that the high court takes a fresh look at New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 decision that made it very difficult for public officials to successfully sue for libel or defamation.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

How Bad is Criminal Defense Advocacy at the Supreme Court?

By Tony Mauro |

A long-simmering problem in U.S. Supreme Court practice is gaining new attention: the allegedly sorry state of advocacy at the court on behalf of criminal defendants. As the Supreme Court relies more and more on the specialized Supreme Court bar, criminal defendants are still represented mainly by "novice" advocates. Some dispute the magnitude of the problem, and any possible remedy may run up against the long-standing culture of resistance by criminal defense lawyers who are loath to give up cases they have handled for years.

Anti-death penalty buttons outside the Supreme Court. June 29, 2015.

An Annotated Justice Breyer on the Death Penalty

By Marcia Coyle |

When the Brookings Institution's head, Strobe Talbot, decided that Justice Stephen Breyer's Glossip death penalty dissent deserved a wider audience, he called John Bessler, who's written four books on capital punishment, to discuss how to reach that audience. The result is this month's publication by Brookings Institution Press of Bessler's unusual approach: Against The Death Penalty.

(l-r) Jenner & Block’s Craig Martin, University of Chicago Law School’s Dean Thomas J. Miles, assistant clinical professor Sarah Konsky, and David Strauss, University of Chicago's Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law.

Why Now for Another Supreme Court Clinic?

By Tony Mauro |

Jenner & Block and the University of Chicago picked an odd time to join more than a dozen law schools in launching a Supreme Court clinic. Their joint announcement Tuesday comes as the high court prepares for a new term in which it has granted review in only 30 cases so far, an unusually small number. The new clinic will have to compete fiercely with other clinics and law firms for a dwindling number of cases—a trend that has had some wondering if the clinic movement has peaked.

Demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court to bring attention to reconsideration of the Citizens United v. FEC decision. February 23, 2012.

How Supreme Court Decisions Play in Presidential Elections

By Marcia Coyle |

What do Citizens United, Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott have in common? Presidential candidates have targeted those and other U.S. Supreme Court decisions in their campaigns since the election of 1860 and with little success at making them game-changing issues. "I think the current election has in some ways accelerated the trend of making the court a more prominent election issue," said William G. Ross of Samford University Cumberland School of Law. "There have been more comments by candidates in the primaries about the role of the court and the significance of the election for appointment of justices."

Amending America, a National Archives exhibit, features, among other things, more than 11,000 constitutional amendments proposed from 1787 to 2014.

Thousands of Proposed Constitutional Amendments Need Attention—on Wikipedia

By Marcia Coyle |

The Law Library of Congress and the National Archives have wiki entries related to more than 11,000 proposed constitutional amendments that need sharp eyes and quick fingers to write and edit. The Law Library and the National Archives, along with Wikimedia D.C., are hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on July 29.

Bessie Margolin photographed on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in the 1950s.

SCOTUS Advocate Bessie Margolin Finds Place in History

By Suzanne Monyak |

Attorney-author Marlene Trestman recalls her first conversation with the accomplished labor lawyer and why it was time for her story to be told.

Muhammad Ali

Former Law Clerk Adds New Footnote to Muhammad Ali Supreme Court Case

By Tony Mauro |

The recent death of the legendary Muhammad Ali has triggered new interest—and new revelations—about the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reversed his conviction on charges of dodging the draft.

Flight-Sharing Case, Shut Down by Feds, Arrives at Supreme Court

By Jamie Schuman |

Private pilots have long posted ads at local airports to find passengers to chip in on costs. When a company called Flytenow moved that process online, the government put a stop to it. A cert petition pending before the U.S. Supreme Court in Flytenow v. Federal Aviation Administration argues that grounding the start-up was "dangerously anachronistic" and could stymie the growth of other "sharing economy" services, such as Uber and Airbnb.

ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro.

Steven Shapiro, 'Jagger' of Civil Liberties, Reflects on ACLU Career, Challenges

By Marcia Coyle |

This fall, Steven Shapiro, the national legal director for the ACLU, leaves the post he has held since 1993 and the organization for which he has worked since 1987. He directed a large docket of cases that ranged from free speech to gay rights to the death penalty. Shapiro sits down with the SCB to reflect on civil rights, privacy and other areas.

Scalia's chair and the bench were draped in black after his death on Feb. 13.

Supreme Court Trends in Class Actions after Scalia

By Steffen N. Johnson and Paul N. Harold |

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 term will of course most be remembered for the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose untimely death promises to affect the court for years to come—and on everything from high-profile questions of constitutional law to how the court reads statutes and what the court decides. It appears that several decisions this term would have come out differently had Justice Scalia lived to see the end of June. In some areas, however, Justice Scalia's absence appears not to have altered the outcomes, even when the court was closely divided on critical issues.

Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin (2008)

Which Firms Most Often Capture the Justices' Review?

By Marcia Coyle |

The University of Southern California's Adam Feldman and Alexander Kappner studied 93,000 cert petitions between 2001 and 2015 to try to glean what factors make a petition more or less likely to be granted. A firm’s success "with their aggregate cert filings does not guarantee success on a per-case basis," according to the study.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Even the Supreme Court Makes Flubs—and Now it is Letting the Public Know

By Tony Mauro |

A letter sent by the U.S. solicitor general’s office alerting the Supreme Court to an error in one of its recent opinions is shedding new light on what happens when the court messes up.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. in his office at the U.S. Department of Justice on June 24.

Cases and Controversies: Verrilli on Privacy, Voting Rights and Doing Penance

By Tony Mauro and Marcia Coyle |

During an extended interview on June 24, his last day in office, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. discussed not only recent decisions, but other issues—past, present and future—that are on his mind. "We live in an era of staggering technological innovation," he said, predicting ever more scrutiny of the Fourth Amendment and privacy.

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the day of arguments in the immigration case United States v. Texas.  April 18, 2016.

Waiting for a New Justice, and a New Chance to Prevail

By Marcia Coyle |

The California teachers who lost their challenge in the union-fees case this term hope to snatch victory from a 4-4 defeat by seeking a rehearing when a new justice is confirmed. Will the United States do the same in the immigration case?

Anthony Kennedy, left, and Samuel Alito, right.

Justice Kennedy’s Startling Shift on Affirmative Action

By Tony Mauro |

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has voted against every race-based affirmative action program during his tenure on the court, shifted gears Thursday, writing the majority opinion upholding the University of Texas’ affirmative-action policy for undergraduate admissions. He found that the use of race as a factor in university admissions could withstand strict scrutiny.

Justices Expand False Claims Act Liability—With Conditions

By Marcia Coyle |

Health providers, medical and drug companies, educational institutions and others who contract with the federal government avoided a major defeat Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a contested theory of liability under the government's chief fraud-fighting law, but imposed limits on its use.

Clarence Thomas.

Thomas Sweeps Precedents Aside in Indian Law Case

By Tony Mauro |

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is known to have his doubts about stare decisis, the doctrine of standing by precedents. The late Justice Antonin Scalia once said that Thomas "doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period." Practitioners know that he is the justice most receptive to pleas to overturn undesirable precedents. Thomas’s concurrence in an Indian law case June 13 may take the cake.

Justices Decline to Revisit Power Plant Mercury Standards

By Marcia Coyle |

Twenty states failed to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to examine an appellate court's decision to leave in place legally flawed mercury and air toxics regulations while the Environmental Protection Agency addressed the shortcomings.

Former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille (left) and presidential candidate Donald Trump have figured in separate high-profile disputes over the recusal of judges.

A Law Prof's Take on Judicial Recusals, the Williams Decision and Trump

By Tony Mauro |

Recusal has emerged as an issue in the presidential campaign, in the form of Republican candidate Donald Trump's criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel for not stepping aside from the civil suit against Trump University. The high court itself has faced recusal controversies in recent years, prompting calls for justices to be more transparent in explaining why they do or don't recuse in certain cases. Stetson University College of Law professor Louis Virelli III has just written Disqualifying the High Court, a book about recusal that focuses mainly on the Supreme Court but also charts the history of recusal statutes—many of which he believes are unconstitutional. Our conversation with Virelli was edited for length and clarity.

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Supreme Court Relaxes Rules for Enhanced Patent Damages

By Scott Graham |

Willful patent infringement just became a lot more dangerous. In a rare pro-patent holder decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s Seagate standard governing enhanced damages for willful infringement is too hard to meet.

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

A 'Chaotic and Thrilling' Month at the Supreme Court

By Marcia Coyle |

How best to describe the month of June at the U.S. Supreme Court, when the justices—and their clerks—race toward the finish line? "Chaotic and thrilling," Mayer Brown's Brian Netter, who clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer in the October 2010 term, said. At least for the law clerks.

Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville, Tennessee.

Justices Asked to Protect Against Ineffective Lawyers in Parental Termination Cases

By Jamie Schuman |

Criminal defendants are guaranteed the effective assistance of counsel. A certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asks whether that protection should apply in termination of parental rights proceedings as well.

John Roberts Jr.

Chief Justice Roberts Misses Solo Lawyers With 'Battered Briefcases'

By Tony Mauro |

In his 11th year as chief justice, John Roberts Jr. is sounding wistful about the days earlier in his career when lawyers who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and law clerks who worked for the justices were less polished than they are now.

U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Death Penalty Issues in Texas Cases

The intersection of intellectual disability and race with capital punishment lies at the heart of two appeals that the court on Monday agreed to review next term.

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. March 4, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

High Court Challenge Could Unravel Military Death Penalty

By Marcia Coyle |

In the past eight years, the Obama administration has been no stranger to charges it has violated separation of powers or exceeded its statutory authority. But a new charge comes from an unusual source—the military justice system—in a U.S. Supreme Court petition that has the potential to dismantle the military's capital punishment scheme.