According to statistics from the most recently completed Supreme Court term, you have more than a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of getting a petition for writ of certiorari granted.

During the Court’s 2016 Term, completed in June, the Justices disposed of 6,305 petitions – down from 7033 filings in the 2014 Term and 6475 filings in the 2015 Term.

During the 2016 Term, the Court granted a total 69 petitions for oral argument – a rate of 1.09%.  That figure does not count GVRs – the grant of a petition for certiorari, vacation of the lower court’s judgment, and remand of the case.

That doesn’t seem much better than a snowball’s chance, right?  However, if we separate petitions into two commonly analyzed categories – paid petitions and petitions filed In Forma Pauperis (IFP) – the grant rate changes considerably.

During the 2016 Term, 59 of the 1550 paid petitions filed were granted – a rate of 3.8%.  IFP petitions, which made up the bulk of the Court’s docket (75.4%), were granted at a rate of .21% (4755 IFP petitions were disposed of vs. the 10 that were granted).

Paid Petitions                                                IFP Petitions

Disposed 1550 4755
Granted 69 10
Percentage 3.8% .21%


Thanks to Kedar S. Bhatia, historical background can be given for the Court’s 2016 Term grant rate.  He concluded that from the 2001 Term to the 2010 Term the court averaged:

Paid                            IFP                             Total

Disposed 1674.3 6384.6 8058.9
Granted 71.8 11 82.8
Percentage 4.3% .17% 1.0%


For reference, the Court’s 2016 journal reflects the disposition of each case.

Kedar S. Bhatia, Stat Pack for October Term 2016, SCOTUSBLOG (June 28, 2017),