Thomas C. Goldstein and Ben Winograd*
As the Court approached the start of October Term 2007, it faced a severe docket crunch. The justices had agreed to decide only 26 cases, well below the number needed to fill the fall argument calendar. At the conclusion of the summer recess, the shortfall forced the Court to expedite briefing schedules in numerous cases granted to avoid canceling the January argument session outright. Over the course of the term, it never caught up. While the Court managed to fill its calendar for three of the final four argument sessions, in total the justices heard argument in only 70 cases, the lowest figure in more than 50 years.1
By contrast, the Court enters October Term 2008 having accepted a comparatively plentiful 43 cases for argument. Ordinarily, that total would be sufficient to fill the Court's argument calendar well into January or February. In a switch from past terms, however, the Court has scheduled three arguments (rather than two) on most days in the October and November sittings, and is expected to hear only one argument per day during the spring. By frontloading the calendar, Chief Justice John Roberts has said, the Court would have more time to finish opinions over the winter recess and thereby avoid its usual crunch at the end of the term.2
*Thomas C. Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and
co-head of the firm's litigation and Supreme Court practice. Ben Winograd is a special
assistant to Akin Gump's Supreme Court practice and a law student at Georgetown
University Law Center. Goldstein is the founder of SCOTUSblog, to which Winograd
also contributes. The authors wish to thank SCOTUSblog writers Kristina Moore,
Brian Sagona, and Max Schwartz for their contributions to this article.
1 Three granted cases were dismissed before argument by mutual consent of the
parties: No. 06–1346, Ali v. Achim; No. 07–110, Arave v. Hoffman; and No. 07–480,
Huber v. Wal-Mart.
2 Tony Mauro, Next Term: A Fatter, Faster Calendar for Supreme Court, Legal
Times, July 3, 2008.