Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A quick primer on the Supreme Court's consideration of Virginia's petition for certiorari before judgment

For those of you with actual lives (who therefore do not follow the workings of the justices as closely as some of us), here is a quick overview of the process going forward:

1. There is no obligation to file a reply brief at the certiorari stage, though Virginia is welcome to. It can file it at any time, though the petition will be distributed to the justices within ten days of the filing of the brief in opposition. It should only respond to points made in the DOJ's brief in opposition.

2. The clerk of the Court will distribute the petition, the brief in opposition, and the reply brief (if any) within ten days of the filing of the BIO. Paid petitions are typically circulated on Wednesdays. Thus, this petition should be distributed next week.

3. One of the justices' clerks in the cert pool will then have until the next Thursday (March 24) to complete his or her pool memo on the petition. One of Justice Alito's clerks will examine it as well.

4. By the following Monday (March 28), the case will likely have been "listed" for discussion at the justices' next conference. Thus, the justices would most likely consider the petition at their conference of Friday, April 1. (Perhaps fitting, depending on your perspective.)

5. Finally, if all goes according to normal procedure, the Court's disposition of the petition would become public in the Court's subsequent order list, released at 10:00 a.m., Monday, April 4. (If the Court decided to grant the petition, and if it were planning to expedite argument and its decision in the case, it might make its decision to grant review the afternoon of the conference, April 1. But if the Court were to deny the petition, or grant and plan to hear argument in the fall, its decision would be released on the April 4 order list.)

6. If the petition is scheduled for the April 1 conference, but the Court does not make its decision public by April 4, this will mean that the case has been "re-listed." This happens when either the Court is not fully decided on what it wants to do with the petition (say, three justices have voted to grant but one or more are still undecided), or if one of the justices is preparing a writing on the denial of the petition--a dissent from or a "statement regarding" the denial of cert.

So this is what lies ahead in the next three weeks.