The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

What Supreme Court Advocates Mean When We Say "Those Are Good Facts"

Usually, "good" facts for a cert petition represent unfortunate human suffering.


Recently, I was speaking to a group of high school students about Supreme Court advocacy. I referenced a recent cert grant, involving a veteran who was injured in war, and suffered a debilitating injury. I said, without thinking about it, "those are good facts." I immediately stopped myself, and realized that I just told a group of teenagers that it was "good" this poor veteran was in such pain. I then realized how perverse it is that Supreme Court advocates often have to fish around (to use a word for the day) for sympathetic plaintiffs who have been subject to unfair or harmful treatment. Bad facts make bad law. But sad facts can make a cert grant.