US Supreme Court filings: a primer

Sorry I've been gone a while, but I've been busy.

In today's post, I'll walk you through a (very rudimentary) tutorial on the shakedown that is filing things in the US Supreme Court, as I had to teach myself this last month.

Question 1: Why?

-I don't know why, but if you are the Petitioner, good luck. Depending where you look, the odds to get your certiorari granted are less that 5%.  If you are on death row, keep fighting the good fight, assuming you're innocent. If you're trying to keep minorities from voting in North Carolina, then I guess you have to keep trying.  Either way, its a pain to file things in the supreme court, but let's proceed.

Step 1: Get Admitted

So your case is appealed to the USSCT, or you need to appeal a case up there. First things first, you have to be admitted to the Supreme Court bar! Ask around, and some say this is a vanity trip, and I might not disagree. However vane it may be, its $200 and this form to join the club. You also have to find some friends who are part of the club to endorse you. Special thanks to the Richardsons, and Roger Sanders for this endorsement. Mail it off, and they send you an email saying..."one more click and you are confirmed!"

This takes you to a third party framing site, which, after rejecting the several overpriced framing options for your new shiny supreme court bar certificate, you can confirm you actually want the certificate you already paid for as part of your $200 fee. I understand it, because, capitalism and all, but poor form, supreme court, poor form requiring me to click through ten screens of pretty frames just to get my certificate. I digress.

Step 2: Respond

If you are at this point, you probably know your case and have most of the content ready to go. As any 1L or appellate lawyer will tell you, you end up spending as much time formatting as writing. This part is awful. However, I found this template that, while advertising for another company's services, got the job done. But that is just the beginning.

Step 3: The Booklet

Within THE RULES of the Supreme Court, you find out the following:

Rule 33. Document Preparation: Booklet Format; 8 1/2­ by 11-Inch Paper Format 1. Booklet Format: (a) Except for a document expressly permitted by these Rules to be submitted on 81/2- by 11-inch paper, see, e. g., Rules 21, 22, and 39, every document filed with the Court shall be prepared in a 6 1/8- by 9 1/4-inch booklet format using a standard typesetting process (e. g., hot metal, photocomposition, or computer typesetting) to produce text printed in typographic (as opposed to typewriter) characters. The process used must produce a clear, black image on white paper. The text must be reproduced with a clarity that equals or exceeds the output of a laser printer.

What? I can't just do it online? NO, you can't, and you can't do it at home/the office unless you have a print shop. A 6 and 1/8 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch booklet, it turns out, you cannot just make in your own office printer. It gets better.

Your petition has to have a white cover. An opposition? It has to have an Orange cover. Yep, orange. A brief on the merits? Light Blue. After that, you have to file 40 of them with the court, and 3 with all parties. FORTY.

Can't I just outsource this? You bet you can. And the outsources will email you. And Email you. For a complete hands off with response, expect to pay several grand. Cheapest quote I found for just printing and delivery was $1500 I think, most were around $3k and up.

Instead, I called my good friend Ronnie at BnB solutions and he made my little orange books perfectly, and got them to DC on time. Under $200. Ronnie, I salute you.

Step 4: Sit back and wait. 

Now is the easy part, you sit back and hope the Clerks up there agree with whatever your position is, and stick your 40 colorful books in the good pile.

PRO TIP: Call the clerks. They are awesome, usually answer their phones, and will guide you through everything. If they don't answer, they actually call you back.


If you have to file something in the US Supreme Court, don't fret. It can seem daunting, but as long as you take your time, you can get it done efficiently and cost effectively.


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