This weekend, I went through all the oral argument transcripts from OT00 through OTO8 and I counted how many times each of the major advocates has argued before the Supreme Court. I know that I’ve got all of the big advocates (10+ arguments), but I might be missing a few of the advocates with less. Some listed only have a few (Andrew Frey, 3) but I’ve included them because they are otherwise notable. I also have a version for just the Roberts court (OT05-Present) and you can also find that below.
Some quick analysis: Carter Phillips’ tally is particularly impressive because he was the only advocate listed who got all of his in private practice. Waxman also has an impressive tally but he got a few of his (only the first 5) while he was SG. Paul Clement has a obscene number of cases even though he didn’t argue any during OT08. Olson’s 10 cases during OT02 is the record for this decade but several have come close:
Olson – 8 (OT01)
Olson – 8 (OT 03)
Clement – 8 (OT04)
Clement – 8 (OT05)
Clement – 8 (OT06)
Olson – 7 (OT 08)
Clement – 7 (OT 07)
In case you don’t remember, the court only sits for oral arguments 7 months out of the year. Its pretty impressive that these two guys can go so many consecutive terms arguing an average higher than one per month, even if they did that in the SG’s office.
If you aren’t very good at math, I’ll give you another number: 26. Thats the number of times Ted Olson argued before the Court over a three year span from OT01-0T03. That also means that he argued more frequently than once per sitting. Clement has a similarly impressive streak with 24 arguments from OT04-OT06.
Looking at these numbers, I have to wonder if our currently inexperienced SG puts us at a major disadvantage. Both advocates had fairly significant experience before taking the reigns of the SG’s office. Olson had argued 12 times before the Court (including Bush v. Gore) and had been an Assistant AG during Regan administration. Clement had argued almost 20 cases as a Deputy SG before Olson stepped down and Clement took his place. Similarly, Garre had argued an impressive number of cases before replacing Clement in 2008.
Kagan, by comparison, has never argued before any Court, at any level, during her career. She was an associate at Williams & Connelly for three years, but I don’t think she argued any cases during that period. She does have some experience in government though, which she got while serving as Associate White House Council during part of the Clinton administration.