This week’s conference may set the tone, not only for this spring’s argument calendar, but also for the fall.
I’ve mentioned before that the Court has not yet set any oral arguments for the remainder of the term. This week’s conference is perfectly positioned to (at least partly) fill the March 10th sitting.
But there is a less visible part of the Court’s docket that has also hit a winter lull — the Court’s requests for full briefing. These do ebb and flow, as the Court digests its workload. But if you glance at the sidebar to your left, you’ll notice (at least as I write this) that there has only been one request for full briefing in the past 30 days. (( In fairness, the Court did issue about a dozen briefing requests on January 9th, so they have only recently fallen off this list. )) Briefing requests need time to mature into oral arguments, so part of the Court’s complex docket-dance is keeping enough briefing requests in the air to be used for the argument calendar when needed.
Petitions That Might Result in Briefing Requests
The petitions that are ripe for the Court to request full briefing — the ones in which a response has been on file for more than 30 days (( The 30 days is an internal practice to give the Justices time to prepare for conference. )) — are collected at this page. (( The Court may also decide to request briefing for some of the petitions that have been on hold for even longer, but it is doubtful they will accelerate any petitions unless the case is especially time-sensitive. ))
If you work through the calendar math, a request for full briefing issued today would give the parties at least two or three months (combined) to complete briefing, and then another month for a law clerk to write a study memo for the Court’s consideration. So, a request issued today could not result in an oral argument this term. (( In particularly time-sensitive cases, the Court does sometimes set a shorter schedule. )) At best, briefing requests made this month and next will ultimately be the cases that fill out next fall’s argument calendar. With that in mind, I expect a big burst of briefing requests this month and next as the Court starts to reload for next year.
Fully Briefed Cases That Might Mature Into Oral Arguments
As for potential Texas Supreme Court oral arguments this spring, the petitions that are ripe to be set for oral argument are listed on this page, which collects cases in which the briefing has been complete for between 30 days (giving the study memo time to be written) and 75 days (giving a little more time to circulate). (( Cases that have been pending much longer than that are perhaps on the “submarine docket,” but the Court can always choose to surface them for oral argument. ))