The Volokh Conspiracy

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Supreme Court Will Stick with Some Seriatim Argument This Fall

The experiment, instituted for remote arguments, seems to have been judged to have been a success. [UPDATE: Note the correction, which I hope is indeed correct ....]


From the Supreme Court's Guide for Counsel, which has apparently just been updated (emphasis added):

Your argument time is normally limited to 30 minutes ….

The Court generally will not question lead counsel for [a party] during the first two minutes of argument. The white light on the lectern will illuminate briefly at the end of this period to signal the start of questioning….

When the Marshal activates the white light and leaves it illuminated, there are five minutes of argument time remaining. When the red light comes on, counsel may finish responding to a question that is pending, but should not present a summation.

Once an attorney's time has expired, each Justice will have the opportunity to question that attorney individually. Questioning will proceed in order of seniority, beginning with the Chief Justice. During this round of questioning, counsel should respond directly to the questions posed, and should not make additional arguments not responsive to the question.

So it appears that each argument will be:

  1. two minutes of head start,
  2. 28 minutes of free-for-all (if the "activates the white light and leaves it illuminated" happens five minutes before the 30 minutes are up), and
  3. seriatim questioning by the Justices.

UPDATE: I originally somehow missed the free-for-all minutes, and thought it was going to be all seriatim, after the two-minute opening statement; but it now seems to me that the result is this sort of hybrid (which would make arguments rather longer than they were). I welcome further correction, if I've misunderstood this.