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Empirical SCOTUS: Results from the court’s experiment with a new oral argument format

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Empirical SCOTUS: Results from the court’s experiment with a new oral argument format

By Adam Feldman on May 22, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series analyzing the Supreme Court’s telephonic oral arguments with live audio instituted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data for this project was provided by Oyez, a free law project by Justia and the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School. Kalvis Golde and Katie Bart both provided invaluable assistance in aggregating data for this post.

We recently witnessed what was likely the biggest experiment in the history of Supreme Court oral arguments. As former Chief Justice William Rehnquist described in his essay looking at  shifts in the focus of Supreme Court advocacy from oral arguments to the briefs, the biggest changes in the structure of oral arguments historically had to do with the time allotted to individual arguments. Now, even though potentially ephemeral, the new structure implemented in May included unprecedented changes to the argument format. The three main alterations were that the arguments occurred remotely, so for the first time during arguments the justices were not in the same room with the advocates and one another;  :snip: 

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