Thank you for reading The Marble Palace Blog, which I hope will inform and surprise you about the Supreme Court of the United States. My name is Tony Mauro. I’ve covered the Supreme Court since 1979 and for ALM since 2000. I semiretired in 2019, but I am still fascinated by the high court. I’ll welcome any tips or suggestions for topics to write about. You can reach me at [email protected]
Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute had much to celebrate at its annual “End of Term Reception” on Wednesday, just hours after the final U.S. Supreme Court oral argument of the current term.
After two years of skipping the event because of the pandemic, the institute opened the school’s doors to dozens of SCOTUS advocates for what is sometimes called the “prom party” of the Supreme Court bar. It was the 20th such reception since the institute launched in 1999. Justice Brett Kavanaugh attended on Wednesday, as did Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.
The institute provided moot court sessions for 100% of the oral arguments in the current term, said Debbie Shrager, director of the institute. More than 300 voluntary panelists helped lawyers about to argue before the court tackle what Shrager called “the art of moot.”
But the main event was a tribute to Williams & Connolly partner Lisa Blatt, who has argued more Supreme Court cases than any other woman, and argued them well. Former solicitor general Paul Clement, who worked with Blatt, said on Wednesday, “She has argued more cases than any other female advocate by a considerable margin.” He added, “To this day, Lisa has only found five cases out of the 42 that she has argued where she could not persuade the justices to see things her way.” Clement, a partner with Kirkland & Ellis, has argued 110 Supreme Court cases.
When Blatt rose to thank the audience for the celebration, she first thanked the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for whom she clerked when Ginsburg was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
“She showed me that, although I will never reach it, I should at least strive for perfection,” Blatt said. “She also showed me that I didn’t have to dress like everybody else and that it was okay to be liberal and to still love conservatives.”
She also spoke about Williams & Connolly, where she has worked in two stints, and about the dearth of diversity among Supreme Court advocates in general:
“When I returned to Williams & Connolly three years ago, I also learned that practicing law is not about how younger colleagues can help you, but how you can help your younger colleagues. This lesson has taken on added significance given the appalling disparity among male, female, and black oral advocates before the court. As far as I can tell, only two black men from private practice have argued since 2003 and one of them, the great John Payton passed away 10 years ago. The other one, Luke McCloud, had not even argued in any courtroom before I got to Williams & Connolly. The numbers will not change unless we act instead of just talk. It cannot be that Luke is the only living superstar advocate at a law firm, who happens to be a black lawyer.”
McCloud, a partner at Williams & Connolly, argued for the first time before the high court on January 19 of this year. He was a former clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor and to Brett Kavanaugh when he was on the D.C. Circuit.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct a quote from Lisa Blatt.