28 U.S.C. § 1911 provides that “the Supreme Court may fix the fees to be charged by its Clerk.” The Court has set the following fee schedule:
- Docketing a petition for writ of certiorari, jurisdictional statement, or original action case: $300.
- Docketing a petition for rehearing or a motion for leave to file a petition for rehearing: $200.
- Application for admission to the Supreme Court Bar: $200.
- Check paid to the Court that is returned for lack of funds: $35.
- Replacing certificate of admission to the Supreme Court Bar: $15.
- Certificate of good standing: $10.
- Reproducing and certifying any record or paper: $1 per page.
- Comparing with the original thereof any photographic reproduction of any record or paper: $.50 per page.
Supreme Court filing fees are not required in four types of proceedings:
- In forma pauperis cases (Rule 39);
- Veteran’s reemployment cases (Rule 40.1);
- Seamen’s cases (Rule 40.2); and
- Cases brought by accused persons from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (Rule 40.3).
Just as in state and other federal court proceedings, the prevailing party in Supreme Court litigation is allowed to recover costs unless otherwise prohibited by congressional statute. 28 U.S.C. § 1920 and the Court’s rules set the parameters for such recovery:
- If the Court grants certiorari to review a case, and the respondent ultimately loses, the respondent may be assessed all costs, including the $300 docketing fee and the cost of printing the joint appendix.
- If the cost of printing the joint appendix is taxed as a cost in the case, and a party unnecessarily causes the matter to be included in the joint appendix or prints excessive copies, the Court may impose costs on that party.
- When a petition for writ of certiorari or other appeal is frivolous, the Court may award the respondent or appellee just damages, and single or double costs under Rule 43. Damages or costs may be awarded against the petitioner, against the appellant, against the party’s counsel, or against both party and counsel.
In original action litigation – often interstate water rights cases – the Court directs that the parties bear the costs of the Special Master (a Court-appointed judge), his staff, the cost of printing his reports, and other just Special Master expenses (including travel expenses).
For example, in No. 126, Orig., Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado – a dispute over states’ rights to the waters of the Republican River Basin – the Special Master collected:
- $111,631.38 on Oct. 2, 2000
- $152,563.19 on Apr. 23, 2001
- $39,666.96 on Oct. 7, 2002
(Seven-year break in litigation and a new Special Master appointed):
- $70,884.97 on Feb. 21, 2012
- $288,229.61 on Oct. 15, 2012
- $246,328.05 on Apr. 15, 2013
(A total of $909,304.16 to date).