August 17, 2007

"Reading the Roberts Court"

Law.com has posted a transcript of a panel discussion held last month that brought together four attorneys who had argued before the Supreme Court during the past term. Tony Mauro, of Legal Times, moderated. To some extent the panel covered what has by now become familiar territory for Court-watchers: the big 'landmark' decisions (Seattle/Louisville; Gonzales v. Carhart; Microsoft v. AT&T; etc.), and the Court's alleged shift toward the right (pro-business, anti-abortion, etc.).

More interesting and unique in this discussion is an opportunity to hear about these four attorneys' experiences arguing before the Justices of the Supreme Court. They talked about the character of each Justice - which ones ask questions, and the nature of the questioning. They talked about their personal experiences in oral arguments - their strategy and their approach.

And perhaps most notably, several of them mentioned the importance of Justice Kennedy as the critical vote on the new Supreme Court.

Thomas Goldstein put it in the strongest terms:
"In terms of who is in charge, Justice Kennedy is in charge. Don't have any doubts about this...Justice Kennedy's vote is more centrally important than any other justice in the history, the modern history, of the Supreme Court."

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