The United States Law Week

Lack of Women Arguing Before Supreme Court Persists

Nov. 26, 2018, 9:31 AM

A dearth of female advocates arguing cases at the U.S. Supreme Court persists into the next session with only two set to appear before the justices in 10 cases, the lowest number so far this term.

A total of 27 lawyers will argue over the next two weeks, according to a hearing list posted ahead of the sitting, or session, beginning on Monday.

Six women were among 22 advocates appearing before the court in the term’s initial session of 10 cases in the first part of October. Seven of 34 advocates were women in the second sitting, which featured 12 cases and wrapped up Nov. 7.

Lisa Blatt, the veteran high court litigator who has already argued this term after famously supporting Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination over the summer, will appear before the justices on Tuesday in Carpenter v. Murphy.

The Arnold & Porter star represents Oklahoma in the death penalty case of Patrick Dwayne Murphy, who says the state can’t execute him because his crime took place on an American Indian reservation and therefore only the federal government had jurisdiction over him.

She’ll square off against former acting U.S. solicitor general Ian Gershengorn of Jenner & Block, who’s arguing for Murphy.

Joining Blatt’s side on behalf of the Trump administration is another legendary advocate, Edwin S. Kneedler. It will be Kneedler’s 141st argument at the high court, and his third of the term.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, of which Murphy is a member, will also get to argue before the justices, in what will be the tribe’s lawyer Riyaz Kanji‘s first argument.

The second female advocate this sitting is West Virginia’s solicitor general Lindsay S. See, arguing Dec. 3 in Dawson v. Steager, a tax case. It’s her first argument.

Another high court regular appearing again this sitting is Williams & Connolly’s Kannon Shanmugam. He’s arguing a patent case Dec. 4. It will Shanmugam’s third argument since the term kicked off in October.

Like the Murphy case, Shanmugam’s argument in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva Pharmaceuticals will feature a lot of Supreme Court advocate firepower. The administration is siding with his claim via seasoned government lawyer Malcolm L. Stewart. They’ll be facing Goodwin’s William M. Jay, a noted appellate and intellectual property lawyer.

More First Timers

Including See and Kanji, the session features a whopping 12 first-timers at the court, according to Supreme Court resource Oyez. They hail from across the country and from government postings and firms large and small.

Among them are Wesley P. Hottot of the Institute for Justice. He’ll argue on behalf of Tyson Timbs’ forfeiture claim in Timbs v. Indiana that asks the justices to apply the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines to the states.

Multiple arguments will feature first-timers squaring off against one another, including See’s tax case, where Jones Day’s Lawrence D. Rosenberg is on the other side.

On the first day of the sitting, Nov. 26, the First Amendment retaliatory arrest case Nieves v. Bartlett features Dario Borghesan of the Alaska Attorney General’s office and Zane D. Wilson of CSG, Inc.

On the last day, Dec. 5, the double jeopardy case Gamble v. United States will be the first outings for Jones Day’s Louis A. Chaiten and Texas solicitor general Kyle D. Hawkins.

Following this sitting, the court won’t again hear arguments until January.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jordan S. Rubin in Washington at jrubin@bloomberglaw.com; Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com; Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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