To aid illustrate the terms and also concepts you will frequently encounter in discussions of the supreme Court, we have followedan imaginary can be fried Court case through the judicial process.

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Supposethat the plaintiff (Mr. Lyon) is suing the defendant (his employer, the state-run pet House Zoo). Mr. Lyon, who is white, scored higher than Mr. Behr, that is black, on an exam that qualifies employees because that promotions. When the exam was scored, however, the zoo threw out the results since it concerned that cultivating a white candidate over a black candidate would certainly leave it vulnerable to allegations that it had violated location VII of the 1964 Civil legal rights Act, i m sorry prohibits gyeongju discrimination in employment. Mr. Lyon sue the pet House Zoo, arguing that by throwing out the results of the exam, the zoo violated under his civil liberties under location VII and the Equal protection Clause that the U.S. Constitution. (The can be fried Court handle a instance with comparable facts in 2009when it chose Ricci v. DeStefano.)

Here, we’ll look in ~ the life that our hypothetical case, Lyon v. Pet House Zoo, focusing on proceedings in the supreme Court.

Lower Courts

Mr. Lyon is suing his employer, the animal House Zoo, since he believes that the zoo violated his legal rights under the Civil civil liberties Act and also the U.S. Constitution. He starts his lawsuit by submit it in the commonwealth district court, thetrial court responsible because that considering federal instances in the area wherein he lives and works. After ~ hearing arguments and also receiving evidence from both Mr. Lyon and the zoo, the ar court decides the the zoo did not violate Mr. Lyon’s rights.

Unhappy through the psychological court’s decision, Mr. Lyon appeals it to the U.S. Court that Appeals because that the second Circuit, among thirteen federal appellate courtsthatreview appeals from federal district courts. A dashboard of three randomly assigned judges evaluate the case and also affirms the district court’s ruling that the zoo can not be hosted liable because that its actions, due to the fact that by throwing out the exam results, it had actually simply to be trying to accomplish its duty not to discriminate under the Civil rights Act.

At this point, Mr. Lyon has to choose between petitioning the can be fried Court for review of the second Circuit’s decision or search rehearingby the three judges or by all the judges on the second Circuit. Mr. Lyon chooses to ask for rehearing by every the second Circuit judges, known as en banc review, yet the court denies his request.

Petition for Certiorari

From the day the second Circuit denies his petition because that rehearing en banc, Mr. Lyon has actually ninety days to document a petition for a writ the certiorari (often called acert. Petition), which is a quick asking the can be fried Court come hear his case. (If Mr. Lyon had actually won in the lower courts, the zoo could have filed a cert. Petition.) In many circumstances, the supreme Court has discretion whether or not to give review of a specific case. That the 7,000 come 8,000 cert. Petitions filed every Term, the court sponsor cert. And hears oral discussion in only around 80. Providing a cert. Petition calls for the votes of 4 justices.

Mr. Lyon deserve to request that the moment for filing his cert. Petition be prolonged for up to 60 days. At least ten days prior to the due day (absent especially circumstances), that can record a motion requesting more time. The request would certainly go to the circuit justice, the member that the can be fried Court responsible because that the second Circuit, right now Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The justices vary in their willingness come grant expansion requests.

In his cert. Petition, Mr. Lyon sets the end the facts, the history of the case, and also the factors why the can be fried Court need to review the 2nd Circuit’s ruling. He tells the court the it should approve review no only due to the fact that the second Circuit’s opinion is dorn but also because, by doing so, the court can clarify ambiguities in both the Civil rights Act and the Constitution. (In enhancement to focusing directly on the legal inquiries at problem in the case, cert. Petitions often allude to arguments amongcourts that appeals around those issues and also ask the supreme Court to deal with those problems by setting a precedent that the lower courts should follow.)

Once Mr. Lyon’s cert. Petition is filed, the zoo has three options: it can acquiesce, which method that it deserve to agree through Lyon that the court should grant certiorari (opt come hear the case); it deserve to waive its best to document a responseto the cert. Petition (although the justices, after analysis the petition, might still questioning the zoo because that its response); or the can record a brief in the contrary (BIO). The zoo choose the third option; once the cert. Petition is inserted on the can be fried Court’s docket, the zoohas thirty job to file its BIO.

That deadline have the right to be extended as well by make arequest come the Clerk’s Office. One request will certainly be granted together a issue of right. Later on requests normally require the petitioner’s permission. Over there is no limit on the number of extensions.

Because the agrees with the 2nd Circuit’s decision and also wants that judgment to prevail, the zoo suggests in the BIO the the court should deny Mr. Lyon’s cert. Petition and choose not to listen the case.

After the BIO has actually been filed, Mr. Lyon can document a reply brief, rebutting the points make by the zoo in the BIO and reiterating the debates made in his cert. Petition. Uneven the cert. Petition and the BIO, i m sorry mustbe filed v the court understrict deadlines, the exact timing that the reply brief varies. A general rule of thumb, though, is that a reply brief should it is in filed roughly ten days after submit of the BIO.

Before the court decides even if it is to hear Mr. Lyon’s petition, external groups v an attention in the result of the instance can file briefs telling the court why it should grant certiorari. These groups are known as amici curiae, i beg your pardon is Latin because that “friends that the court”; the briefs they paper are called amicus briefs. At the certiorari stage, as soon as the court is deciding even if it is to hear acase, amicus briefs are typically only filed by persons agree v the petitioner the the court have to review the case.

Once all of the cert. Stage briefs — the cert. Petition, the BIO, the reply quick (if any), and the amicus briefs (if any)—are filed, castle are spread to the justices’ chambers. Sevenof the current justices get involved in the cert. Pool, i beg your pardon is a labor-saving device in i m sorry a cert. Petitionis very first reviewed by one law clerk in one of the seven chambers. The clerk prepares a memorandum about the case that includes an initial recommendation regarding whether the court have to review the case; the memorandum is circulated come all seven chambers, where it is the review by the clerks and possibly the judge there.Justice Samuel Alito go not take part in the cert. Pool. Instead, hislaw clerks evaluation the incomingcert. Petitionson your own and make recommendations straight to him.

Based on these reviews, the justices decide to add Lyon v. Animal House Zoo to the discuss list,a quick list of instances they setup to talk around at their next private meeting, or conference. (If no justice had asked to add Lyon to the discuss list, the would have been put on the “dead list,” and also cert. Would automatically have been denied without the justices having actually ever disputed the situation or voted on it.) following a general practice under the Roberts court, the justices vote to relist Lyon for the following conference since they are interested in it however want come make certain it’s the ideal case to decide the issue presented. In ~ the following conference, the justicesvote to provide review in Lyon, and the court announces this decision as part of one order list, i beg your pardon will normally bereleased top top the Monday morning after the conference.

Merits Stage

Once the court has actually acceptedthe case, the next are compelled to file a brand-new set that briefs. Unlikethe cert. Stage briefs, whichfocused on even if it is the court have to review the case, the briefs on the merits alloweach partyto explain why that or she have to win the case. Once granted, the petitioner typically has 45days to file his opened brief. (This time frame is typical, but can differ in an especially time-sensitive cases; when the court to be consideringthe dispute in between presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore, for example, it instructed the parties to document their merits briefs end the food of a single weekend. Also, depending upon the court’s schedule, the parties to a merits situation may have the ability to agree on a briefing arrangementthat offers them with more time the the rules specify.) Mr. Lyon has a best of 50 pagesin i m sorry to do his argument, and he provides that room to describe to the court why he thinks the pet House Zoo violated his rights once it threw the end the outcomes of the promotional exam.

Even despite the can be fried Court will be able to reviewthe entire record in the case, Mr. Lyon and the zoo agree the it will certainly be useful for the justices to have ready access to the test results, therefore they decision to record a joint appendix including this material. (If Mr. Lyon and also the zoo had agreed that no joint appendix to be needed, they can have filed a motion asking the court because that permission not to prepare one.) Whoever loses the instance will be required to pay because that the to press of the joint appendix, therefore both Mr. Lyon and also the zoo have an interest in maintaining it as short as possible. The share appendix is filed at the very same time together Mr. Lyon’s merits brief.

A team not involved in Lyon v. Animal House Zoo, the joined Coalition the Zoo Workers, learns around the case and decides the a supreme Court judgment in Mr. Lyon’s favor will benefitits very own mission. Therefore, the group files an amicus brief urging the supreme Court to expropriate Mr. Lyon’s arguments; furthermore, it brings up part points that Mr. Lyon didn’t address in his brief, and that it thinks will certainly be helpful in persuading the justices to dominion in his favor. Because it support the place of the petitioner, the Coalition’samicus brief is early one week after Mr. Lyon’s merits brief is filed. A would-be amicus must usually ask both sides for permission to file, but the court will certainly almostalwaysallow the submit ofa fashionable amicus quick even if one next or one more refuses come consent.

Thirty-five job after Mr. Lyon papers his merits brief (absent an extension), the zoo’s brief, well-known as the respondent’s brief,is due. The is subject to the very same 50-pagelimit together Mr. Lyon’s opened brief; the zoouses the an are to controversy that, when it threw the end the test results, it was just trying to avoid discriminating against any of itsemployees. The zooargues the the 2nd Circuit’s translate of the case was correct, and also it urges the supreme Court come affirm, orleave in place, the ruling.

The U.S. Government learns around Lyon v. Animal House Zoo, and it problems that a supreme Court ruling in Mr. Lyon’s favor would restrict that own capability to promote its employees together it look at fit. Therefore, the government decides to record an amicus short in support of the zoo. The U.S. Solicitor General, that acts together the government’s lawyer in can be fried Court cases, records the amicus brief; her short is early out one week after the zoo’s quick is filed. The joined States is among a restricted number of parties that execute not have to ask because that permission to file an amicus brief.

The Solicitor General also files a motion for split argument, questioning the supreme Court to allot some time for her to speak as an amicus once the situation is argued.

Once Mr. Lyon has filed his merits brief and also the zoo has responded, Mr. Lyonhas an chance to document a answer brief, i m sorry is due roughly 30days after the respondent’s quick on the merits (but at the very least seven days before the situation is argued). He offers this short to rebut the debates made in the respondent’s brief and also the joined States’ amicus brief and also to reiterate the points that made in his original merits brief.

Oral Argument

The supreme Court typically hears oral disagreements between October and also April, scheduling them right into monthly two-week sittings during which the court hears 2 (although periodically one or three) debates per day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Generally, the court allots one hour of dispute time because that each case, v each party speaking for thirty minutes.

Although amici frequently ask the court to grant divided dispute — to let them use component of a party’s allotted half-hour to make their own points—these requests are seldom granted once they come from exclusive groups. However, in Lyon v. Animal House Zoothe court sponsor (as it frequently does) the Solicitor General’s inquiry for split argument. Due to the fact that the Solicitor basic will be saying for the United states in support of the respondent, she (or another lawyer from her office) will certainly be using ten minutes of the half hour allotted to the zoo.

Duringtheoral argument, the justices have the opportunity to asking the attorneys to clarify or elaborate on any kind of questions that have arisen from the briefs. Frequently, much of the oral discussion is specialized to answering these questions.Because Mr. Lyon is the petitioner, his attorney says first. Mr. Lyon’s lawyer speaks because that 25of the 30minutes allotted to him, choosing to reserve the last five minutes because that rebuttal. As quickly as he finishes speaking, the attorney because that the zoo has 20minutes come respond. Following the zoo’s attorney, an attorney from the office that the Solicitor General argues for ten minutes on behalf of the joined States, and then Mr. Lyon’s attorney supplies his 5 remaining minute to supply a rebuttal.


Later the week, the justices hold a private conference throughout which they vote on just how to decision the case. The an elderly justice in the bulk (that is, one of two people the chef justice or, if he is no in the majority, the justice who has actually been ~ above the court the longest) decides who will write the majority opinion; if over there is a dissent—a viewheld by a decimal of justices the a different decision should have been got to —then the an elderly dissenting justice assigns among the dissenting justices to create the dissenting opinion. If a justice agrees through the outcome of a case yet not the reasoning behind it, the or she may write a concurring opinion, in which other justices may join. Justices may additionally write different dissents. In the event of a tie vote — because that example, if there is a vacancy ~ above the court or if among the justices has recused himself or herself from the situation — the decision that the lower court stays undisturbed.

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The assigned justices climate draft and circulate opinions outlining their reasoning in getting to their decision. The time it takes come finalizean opinion relies on several factors, consisting of how split the judge are, i beg your pardon justice is creating the opinion, and also the court’s schedule. Typically, all cases are made decision by the time the court recesses because that the summer in ~ the finish of June or the start of July.

The court announces its decision in Lyon v. Animal House Zoo in open court. Here, the court hand down, or issues,an opinion in which the reverses the second Circuit’s decision, explaining its factors for judgment that the 2nd Circuit was wrong to decide the situation in the zoo’s favor and also that it should have actually ruled in donate of Mr. Lyon instead. (Alternatively, the court can have affirmed the case, ruling that the 2nd Circuit to be right and also that the zoo need to not be hosted liable, or it could have vacated the 2nd Circuit’s ruling, properly canceling it, andremanded the case, directing the 2nd Circuit come re-examine it based on theories, evidence, or reasoning it had not yet considered.)