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OBSCURE SUPREME COURT PROPOSED RULE CHANGE UPSETS BIG BUSINESS & SPECIAL INTERESTS

The United States Supreme Court has published a “Request for Public Comment” with respect to its internal rules of procedure. While most of the rules are procedural and involve things like establishing a word limit for a brief that is filed with the Court or the cover color of certain briefs, one proposed change has upset big business and special interests everywhere.

What seems to be upsetting the special interests is the Court will require any amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief filed by any advocacy group to include the identification, by name, of any person, entity or member who contributed money for the preparation of the brief.

The Court seems to be issuing this proposed change to prevent multiple briefs supporting one position to be filed in addition to a party’s own brief. In English, xyz corporation cannot provide money to the abc trade association to file a friend of the court brief supporting the position of the xyz corporation without noting the contribution.

Advocacy groups, in general, and the United States Chamber of Commerce, in particular, are said to be outraged because they might be forced to reveal their members names.

The advocacy groups are relying on a precedent set in NAACP v. Alabama in 1958 when the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not force any advocacy group to reveal its membership roles on constitutional grounds: the freedom to associate and the privacy of one’s associations.

However, everyone should support the Court’s efforts to uphold the highest traditions of the law and demand full and complete disclosure of those who are attempting to influence Court rulings which may affect us all.

What can YOU do?

While it is unusual for lay persons to comment on procedural matters, you might consider dropping a note to the Court to commend them on their proposed rule 37.6 and the openness it will bring to Court proceedings.

Comments to the Court must be received by June 4, 2007 and should be submitted in writing to:

Clerk of the Court
Attn: Rules Committee
Supreme Court of the United States
Washington, DC 20543

— steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

Research: According to the Court…

Current Rule 37.6

“Except for briefs presented on behalf of amicus curiae listed in Rule 37.4, a brief filed under this Rule shall indicate whether counsel for a party authored the brief in whole or in part and shall identify every person or entity, other than the amicus curiae, its members, or its counsel, who made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of the brief. The disclosure shall be made in the first footnote on the first page of text.”

Revised Rule 37.6

“Except for briefs presented on behalf of amicus curiae listed in Rule 37.4, a brief filed under this Rule shall indicate whether counsel for a party authored the brief in whole or in part, whether such counsel or a party is a member of the amicus curiae, or made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of the brief, and shall identify every person other than the amicus curiae, its members, or its counsel, who made such a monetary contribution. The disclosure shall be made in the first footnote on the first page of text.”

[CLERK’S COMMENT: THE CHANGE WOULD REQUIRE THE DISCLOSURE THAT A PARTY MADE A MONETARY CONTRIBUTION TO THE PREPARATION OR SUBMISSION OF AN AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF IN THE CAPACITY OF A MEMBER OF THE ENTITY FILING AS AMICUS CURIAE.]


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