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It's going to be a busy week for SCOTUS with decisions expected in several cases, and on this dreary Monday, the Court did not disappoint. The order list was released with one cert grant, and many denials. The Court also issued an opinion in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust, and we remember a landmark case beloved to all Torts 1 (and Con Law) students.

Opinion in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust, et al. v. U.S.

The case of Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust gives us a bit of a lesson in railway history, and examines the application of the General Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 to a landowner's interest, if any. The United States had obtained a right of way over petitioners' land for railroads, but later relinquished the rights.

Ready for a three-peat of SCOTUS updates?

Remember that big union case out of Florida, the case that could have changed top-down unionization and greatly weakened organized labor's ability to unionize workplaces through deals with management? Never mind.

And in a less exciting case, the Court clarified Younger abstention, reinstating a lawsuit by Sprint against a local telephone provider.

Plus, Congress was just added to the oral arguments in Noel Canning, the National Labor Relations Board appointments dispute.

Much like women who are online dating receive far more suitors than they can handle, the Supreme Court gets asked for a date far more often than it can (or will) accept. As a result, the grant rate for certiorari is a bit less than 1 percent.

With that in mind, the Monday orders list is usually a sad, yet uneventful waiting room full of spurned parties. Today? It was far from a riot, but there were a few notable cases, including the court's denial of a writ of mandamus in an NSA surveillance case and this, a half-hearted benchslap by Justice Alito.

The first conference of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Term is set for September 30. How many cases, from the petitions filed over the summer, will the Court be hearing?

The numbers game is simple. According to figures provided by USA Today, roughly 8,000 petitions for certiorari are filed with the Supreme Court every year. Last year, the court took 77 cases. That puts the cert. success rate at about 0.0375 percent.

How does the court sort through the mess? The court clerks, and the "cert. pool" have been hard at work, sorting through approximately 2,000 petitions, since their year-long clerkships began in July.

Don't like a court order? You could appeal it (well, in this case, arguably they couldn't), or, if you're feeling lucky, you could try for the "Hail Mary" remedy of a writ of mandamus.

The latter was employed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy organization that keeps lawyers on staff to litigate important issues such as the ongoing NSA surveillance scandal. As customers of Verizon, they found themselves snooped-upon, yet were without a remedy, as they weren't a party to the secret court proceedings that authorized the NSA-Verizon surveillance.

Noting that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and it's associated Court of Review were outside of the regular court systems, and that they lacked standing to appeal the decision within that system, they asked the Supreme Court earlier this week for that extraordinary remedy. Lets take a closer look at their arguments:

SCOTUS Sends Federal Rules Amendments to Congress

You thought that this was going to be just another uneventful Friday afternoon on First Street? Au contraire! The Supreme Court is rocking your world with rule changes today.

Earlier this week, Chief Justice John Roberts sent Congress proposed changes to all your favorite sets of federal rules: Appellate Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence. Those proposals were posted on the Supreme Court’s website Friday afternoon.

SEC Loses Discovery Rule Case

Despite the joyful refrain of "innocent until proven guilty," the government usually has the upper hand in a legal battle.

Need proof? Look no further than yesterday's Supreme Court decision in the FISA wiretapping case. Amnesty International, along with several other plaintiffs, challenged a federal law permitting the government to use electronic surveillance to monitor the international communications of people suspected of having ties to terrorist groups. The majority agreed with the government that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they couldn't show that they suffered an injury.

The catch? The only way a plaintiff can show injury is for the government to admit that it was spying on that person. The government holds all the cards.

Foul Call: Was SCOTUS Turkey Case Denial Correct?

Around the holidays, we try to find a kind of connection between the revelry-of-the-moment and the law.

December is easy, thanks to the never-ending gift that is holiday displays and the Establishment Clause. Thanksgiving is a bit harder. Luckily, the Supreme Court denied cert to consider an interlocutory appeal in a turkey case, House of Raeford Farms v. U.S., last month; we’re going to run with it.

Maximize Your Odds in Your Petition for Certiorari

Getting your case to the Supreme Court is not easy. Many litigants file a petition for certiorari and vie for the Supreme Court's attention, but only a select few get it. So what do you do if you think your case should be heard by the Supreme Court?

California Lawyer Magazine has written a helpful article on maximizing your chances of SCOTUS hearing your case. The article also has small quiz you can take at the end of it, for California MCLE. While it's not easy to have your case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, there are always things you could do to increase your chances.