The Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project
About the Project
The Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project was founded in 1990 as a program of the Public Citizen Litigation Group. What the project offers is truly unique. Its purpose is to rectify an imbalance in Supreme Court practice. Typically, business clients are represented before the Court by experienced Supreme Court practitioners, backed by the massive resources that large corporations can offer. The government relies on the prestigious Office of the Solicitor General. In contrast, more often than not, on the other side of the cases are small firm practitioners or legal service attorneys — excellent lawyers, but with little or no Supreme Court experience. Our theory was to help equalize this imbalance by lending our experience in Supreme Court practice to the underdog, while at the same time not attempting to “steal” the case. Litigation Group lawyers have argued more than 60 cases before the Supreme Court and have filed amicus briefs and appeared as co-counsel in dozens of other cases.
The project provides assistance to lawyers who lost in the lower court and want to ask the Supreme Court to review the case through a petition for certiorari. Uniquely, we also provide pre-certiorari assistance to attorneys who were successful in the lower court by helping them argue that the Supreme Court should not grant their opponents’ petitions for certiorari. These cases often involve access to courts issues, class action procedures, claims of government misconduct, or situations where workers, tort plaintiffs, or civil rights claimants have won significant damages awards or established important rules of law. In trying to keep these cases out of the Court, we focus not only on the merits of the case, but also on technical legal issues (such as whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction) and the often complex question of what makes a case “cert-worthy.”
If the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case, the project assists attorneys in writing briefs and preparing for oral argument, including conducting moot courts. During any Supreme Court Term, we are involved, on average, in 15-20 cases in which the Court grants certiorari (out of about 75 that the Court hears).
If you find yourself with a case that appears to be headed to the High Court and you could use some advice about any matter — procedural or substantive — please contact:
Supreme Court Assistance Project
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
E-mail the Supreme Court Assistance Project