Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions
What types of attorneys argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court?
Most lawyers never argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Some attorneys practice regularly before the U.S. Supreme Court as members of the Supreme Court Bar. The great Daniel Webster, a U.S. congressman and attorney from Massachusetts who lived from 1782 to 1852, argued nearly 250 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was involved in many landmark decisions, such as Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), and Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837). John William Davis, who lived from 1873 to 1955, argued 140 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
In the present-day, Tom Goldstein of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has argued sixteen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court by the time he was in his early 30s. His practice consists nearly entirely of U.S. Supreme Court cases. Other lawyers may argue one case before the U.S. Supreme Court, as they represented the litigant from the beginning of the case.
Those who serve as solicitor general, a position appointed by the president to argue for the United States, naturally argue many more cases than even those members of the Supreme Court Bar who regularly argue cases.