The Supreme Court's Use of Per Curiam Dispositions: The Connection to Oral Argument
Wasby, Stephen L.
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This study is an empirical examination of a set of the Supreme Court's per curiam rulings issued after oral argument between 1969 and 1981. The authors use transcripts of Supreme Court oral argument and the Court's opinions to untangle relationships between oral argument and dispositions, particularly when the Court does not reach the merits. The authors note that oral argument clarifies issues and helps the justices narrow them. The Court's comments in its per curiam dispositions indicate that oral argument is relevant for the Court's dispositions and at times it has been more determinative of outcomes, for example, when counsel's acknowledgements lead to a nonmerits ruling. Implications for the Rule of Four, used in granting review, and for whether the Court learns of case dispositive information before or after granting review are explored.