April 01, 2018

Ten Important Considerations for Supreme Court Advocacy

Theodore B. Olson

Reprinted with permission from Litigation, Winter 2018 (44:2). ©2018 by the American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

A Supreme Court oral argument is the apex of the appellate process. With rare exceptions, each side has a mere 30 minutes to present its case to the justices. Except where the United States, through the Office of the Solicitor General, participates as amicus, argument time is not divided between advocates for either side. This is the hour when it all comes to a crescendo in the 75 or so cases the Supreme Court hears every year. Individual justices have said that minds can be and often are changed during the argument (Justice Breyer recently said that his views are influenced in up to 50 percent of oral arguments), so these minutes are precious and exceedingly important.

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