The headline from the Court’s revisions to Rule 12.6 is that respondents who support the petition have a little more time to file their briefs in support, so long as they provide early notice to the other parties. But the changes go further than that, classifying respondents into three different groups, subject to three distinct sets of rules.

The former Rule 12.6 identified respondents as either for or against the “position of a petitioner.” Respondents opposed to the petition could file briefs in opposition under Rule 15.3, while respondents favoring the petition had 20 days to file their briefs in support, and were otherwise required to “meet the petitioner’s time schedule for filing documents.” (A leading Supreme Court commentator says that this last clause relates to the supporting-respondent’s due dates at the merits stage, or a possible petition stage reply. Gressman, et al., Supreme Court Practice, 9th Ed., 438 (2007); but see Rule 15.6, “Any petitioner may file a reply brief[.]”(Emphasis added).)

The revised Rule 12.6 adds another dimension to the identification of respondents: their alignment with the petitioner in the proceedings below. So, we can now identify respondents as 1) aligned with petitioner below, and supporting the petition; 2) not aligned below, but supporting the petition; and 3) respondents opposed to the petition, regardless of their alignment below.

The first group—aligned and supporting—are subject to the revised Rule 12.6. They will have 30 days to file their brief, but must provide notice to all other parties within 20 days after docketing, and their due date will not be extended.

The second group—not aligned but supporting—are excluded from the notice requirement, and are invited to proceed under Rule 15.3, which gives respondents 30 days to file, and allows for extensions. Under the former rule, these respondents would simply have been categorized by their support for the petition, and would therefore be required to file within 20 days, without extension. This group will be treated like typical oppositional respondents, except that they will be subject to the petitioner’s merits stage due dates.

The final group opposes the petition, and their posture below does not bear upon their due dates. They will operate under Rule 15.3, and will practice as opponents of the petition throughout the proceedings.