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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, October 6, 2008

New Justices content with their dip in the pool

As detailed in this Tony Mauro piece, the new SCOTUS Justices apparently are content to continue to rely on the cert pool to help screen cert petitions:

As they enter their second term, the Supreme Court's two newest justices have decided, at least temporarily, to stick with the Court's clerk-pooling arrangement, despite concerns that it gives law clerks too much power.  In brief interviews in recent weeks, both Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said they will stay in the "cert pool," as it is called, for the current term.

Roberts said he will participate on a "year-to-year basis," and Alito said the same; both indicated they are still weighing the issues that have been raised. But Alito said that during his first term it was apparent to him that certiorari petitions need to be read closely to determine if they are worth granting -- suggesting some need for pooling the workload.

As discussed in posts linked below, I have long speculated that the operation of the SCOTUS cert pool, and thus the insights and interests of the Justices' clerks, has a profound impact on the Supreme Court's docket.  I am a bit disappointed that neither of the new Justices are yet to explore seriously alternatives to cert petition review, but my disappointment is mitigated by the fact that the Court, since the new Justices' arrival, has shown a great interest in more non-capital sentencing issues. [Mark Godsey]

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