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Oral Arguments Before the Supreme CourtAn Empirical Approach$
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Lawrence Wrightsman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368628

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368628.001.0001

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Oral Arguments: Are They No Longer Essential?

Oral Arguments: Are They No Longer Essential?

(p.3) 1 Oral Arguments: Are They No Longer Essential?
Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court

Lawrence S. Wrightsman

Oxford University Press

Two hundred years ago the Supreme Court justices formed their opinions on the basis of the oral arguments; there were no briefs, and oral arguments lasted as long as five days. Now oral arguments usually last only an hour per case, and the justices have reams of printed material to digest. Some believe the oral argument has lost its impact. The chapter traces the history of oral arguments before the Court, from the halcyon days of Daniel Webster and Francis Scott Key in the early 1800s to the decline in the early 1900s to the resurgence in the last two decades. It argues that the oral arguments play a unique role in the decision-making process, as they form the only aspect where the justices gather the information they want.

Keywords:   early advocates, successful advocacy, Admission, Supreme Court bar, briefs

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