When filing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, the Questions Presented section is the first item that the Justices and their law clerks view. Because the Court’s certiorari jurisdiction, though sweeping in scope, is exercised sparingly, a well-crafted Questions Presented is of paramount importance in persuading the Court to exercise its power of review. The following are tips of what NOT to do when writing your Questions Presented.
When Writing your Questions Presented, Do NOT Include Too Much or Too Little Information
The Questions Presented should ideally fit on one page. This ensures that the reader can encompass all the questions with one glance at the page and keeps within Rule 14.1(a) that the Questions “should be short” and “without unnecessary detail.” With too many facts, the issue can become long and unreadable, with too few, it becomes merely an abstract question of law that conveys none of the life or substance of the dispute before the Court. Lengthy questions not only provide more reading matter for overburdened Justices and their law clerks, but also often result in questions that are difficult to follow or understand. The Questions Presented should, above all else, be easily readable. Excessively long recitations of facts will often defeat this objective.
The Supreme Court Justices have indicated their agreement with the above sentiment. Current Justice Antonin Scalia has noted, “