Monday, April 22, 2019
Last November, I blogged about pending rules changes before the United States Supreme Court. As I wrote at that time:
Under the proposed changes, merits briefs will be cut from 15,000 words to 13,000 words. Amicus briefs at the merits stage would be cut from 9,000 words to 8,000 words. Finally, reply briefs would be cut from 6,000 words to 4,500 words. According to the National Law Journal, it seems like this last cut is the one getting the most attention and push back from practitioners.
Last Thursday, the Court issued a press release announcing that some of the rules changes had formally been adopted and will go into effect on July 1, 2019. According to a National Law Journal story on the new rules:
The changes announced Thursday . . . will limit briefs on the merits to 13,000 words, down from the current 15,000-word limit. Amicus briefs filed by nongovernmental entities will shrink from 9,000 to 8,000 words. But the court, apparently responding to criticism from advocates, decided to keep the word limit for reply briefs at 6,000 words. Its proposed rule changes, made public last November, suggested a 4,500-word limit for reply briefs, a document that advocates view as highly important in culminating their briefing before the Supreme Court.
In published commentary on the changes, the Court explained,
Experience has shown that litigants in this Court are able to present their arguments effectively, and without undue repetition, with word limits slightly reduced from those under the current rule. Reductions similarly designed were implemented for briefs in the federal courts of appeals in 2016.
As part of the rules changes the Court also made clear that documents must be filed both electronically and in paper form. The guidance reminds litigants that "paper remains the official form of filing" at the Court.
Given the changes in the circuits, the rules changes really aren't a huge surprise. But, they do demonstrate that the Court moves much slower than the federal courts of appeals in making changes. Perhaps in a few more years we will finally see cameras in the Court.