Among lawyers who practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, James Bopp, Jr. has been recognized as one of “an elite cadre of lawyers (that) has emerged as first among equals, giving their clients a disproportionate chance to influence the law of the land.” So concludes a December 8th Reuters Special Report titled “The Echo Chamber: Influence at the Supreme Court.” Reuters based the report on an “examination of nine years of cases.” The examination “shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court succeeded at getting their clients' appeals heard at a remarkable rate. Their appeals were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others filed by private lawyers during that period.”
The report lists James Bopp, Jr. of The Bopp Law Firm as among that number. It notes that “[e]ach of the 66 lawyers Reuters identified filed an average of at least one petition a year from 2004 to 2012. And each had at least three petitions that were granted in that period. Both criteria put these lawyers far above the norm.” Reuters says this “suggests that the justices essentially have added a new criterion to whether the court takes an appeal–one that goes beyond the merits of a case and extends to the merits of the lawyer who is bringing it.”
The reason was provided by Justices interviewed for the report. Reuters quotes Justice Clarence Thomas as observing that “[a]ny number of people will vote against a cert petition if they think the lawyering is bad.” And Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted as saying: “I have never voted to take a case only because a good lawyer was on it. But I have voted against what would be a marginally granted petition when it was not well presented…. where the petition demonstrates that the lawyer is not going to argue it well.”
Reuters notes that law clerks review the petitions asking the Court to accept cases and make summaries for the justices' review. “One fact a clerk may highlight in the memo is the presence of a prominent, highly regarded lawyer who's involved in the case.”
James Bopp, Jr. comments: “Practice before the U.S. Supreme Court differs from practice before other courts. Because the Court's ability to review cases is quite limited, the Justices must carefully decide which cases present vital issues and will be well briefed and argued. It is vital to understand what the justices are looking for.”
Bopp's overall record before the U.S. Supreme Court is nine wins among his thirteen cases that the High Court has decided on the merits. This led the Journal of Law in 2012 to identify Bopp as one of the Top Supreme Court Advocates of the Twenty-First Century. In addition, Bopp was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 2013, was recognized as the 2009 Republican Lawyer of the Year by the Republican National Lawyers Association and has been dubbed a “Super Lawyer” by the Washington Times and Mother Jones. Read the full Reuters article here.