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A government held at gunpoint

However, the minute I turned in my last column on November 27th, I got news of the attack on the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, followed by the tragedy at San Bernardino a week later. In a minacious way, the topic always presented itself before me. So this time, I will write with hopes that this violence never becomes relevant again.

When ‘The Nine’ become ‘The Eight’ (or ‘The Seven’ or ‘The Six’…): When Supreme Court Justices recuse themselves, and why it matters

The practice of Supreme Court recusal has been receiving national attention following oral arguments in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association. The case, which concerns the federal government’s authority to regulate the price of energy, was already noteworthy in its own right. Because the Court’s decision seriously implicates billions of dollars in revenue for energy companies, it has been described as “a case whose importance is hard to over-estimate.”

The allure of appellate advocacy

The prestige that attaches to Supreme Court cases provides an incentive for private firms to maximize their involvement in otherwise unprofitable projects. On the other hand, but relatedly, the insular nature of the appellate bar (the group of attorneys who regularly practice at the Supreme Court and in other appellate courts) enhances competition for cases, occasionally creating distorted incentives and often bringing cause-based and client-based models of advocacy into conflict.

Goodbye, Newman: Why the Supreme Court doesn’t always take the big cases

As a general matter, it’s not a simple thing to get the Supreme Court to hear a case. We don’t often know how the Court makes those decisions, but it’s safe to say that your odds of getting the Supreme Court to hear your case are about one in a hundred. That said, the Court is much more likely to hear a case if, as was the case here, the U.S. Government is the one asking, and the Court often does step in on highly publicized cases (see, for instance, the recent marriage equality and Affordable Care Act decisions).