The U.S. Supreme Court adopted changes to its rules this week that reduce the number of words allowed in merits briefs and require parties to identify any lower court cases that are directly related to Supreme Court proceedings. The new rules go into effect July 1, 2019.

Word limits:

A revision to Rule 33.1(g) reduces the word limit for opening briefs on the merits from 15,000 to 13,000 words.  They also reduce the number of words allowed in non-governmental* amicus briefs from 9,000 to 8,000.

* This revised rule excludes amicus briefs filed by the U.S. Solicitor General on behalf of the U.S. or a federal government agency, by a State Attorney General on behalf of his/her State, or on behalf of a city, county, town, or similar entity when submitted by its authorized law officer.

The court did not adopt a proposed change that would have reduced the word limit for merits-stage reply briefs from 6,000 to 4,500.

Identifying lower court involvement:

Parties to a proceeding before the Supreme Court are now required to identify “all proceedings in state and federal trial and appellate courts” that “are directly related to the case” in petitions seeking Supreme Court review. This should be done on the list of parties page in a petition.  Respondents are also required to identify proceedings not highlighted by the petitioner.

Other rule changes:

The amendments change the time in which a party may file a merits-stage reply brief from at least seven days before oral argument to 10 days (subject to Rule 25.3’s 30-day due date provision).

Changes to Rules 29.1. and 29.2 make clear that, despite the arrival of electronic filing, “paper remains the official form of filing,” and the filing of paper copies determines whether a document was filed on time.