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.
Supreme Court Rule 14.1(a) states that a Petition for Writ of Certiorari shall contain, “the questions presented for review, expressed concisely in relation to the circumstances of the case, without unnecessary detail. The questions should be short and should not be argumentative or repetitive.…Only the questions set out in the petition, or fairly included therein, will be considered by the Court.”
The Questions Presented is your statement of the precise legal questions before the Court. They should identify the legal issues at stake, with sufficient reference to the facts of the case to make the matter concrete and compelling. Each question generally consists of one sentence, often beginning with the word “whether,” though this formula is not required. In a more complex case, the questions may be preceded by a short introduction setting out the key facts of the case.
Stephen Shapiro, in Certiorari Practice: The Supreme Court’s Shrinking Docket, states that “