Four weeks from now, on Sept. 28, the Supreme Court justices will gather in private for an annual ritual called the “long conference.” They will consider the roughly 2,000 petitions to hear appeals that have piled up over the summer. And they will reject almost every one.
“The summer list is where petitions go to die,” said Gregory G. Garre, a solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration who is now at Latham & Watkins.The odds of persuading the Supreme Court to hear a case are always long. At the conferences held on many Fridays during the term, which lasts from October to June, the justices consider perhaps 200 petitions at a time and grant about 1.1 percent of them. At the long conference, the rate is roughly half of that, around 0.6 percent.That difference is significant. “For the majority of petitioners, the most important moment is trying to get in the door,” said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford who argues frequently before the court. “Once you’re in, the statistics say, you have a two-thirds chance of winning. So the difference between a grant and a deny is truly the difference for a handful of cases on the summer list between winning and losing.”Lawyers and scholars have various theories about why the long conference is so inhospitable. One is that the justices, who decide about 70 cases a year, do not want to grant too many petitions right away for fear of having to turn down better ones later on.“It’s like the beginning of a long buffet,” Professor Fisher said. “You don’t want to fill your plate with too much stuff, lest you not have room for some delicious items at the end of the line.”
Meantime Liptak (the author of the article) and Orin Kerr are fighting about whether Justice Thomas here. Here is the original NY Times piece that Kerr take on. Who has the better of the debate? Kerr seems to make valid points about the flimsy statistics cited by Liptak.