Supreme Court briefs can be lengthy documents, with justices looking to include quotes from Montesquieu (Justice Stephen G. Breyer), inspiration from Ernest Hemingway (Justice Anthony M. Kennedy), or hide clever puns in the complex legal terminology (Justice Anthony Scalia).
Or, if you’re Justice Clarence Thomas, you can strive for brevity and simplicity.
He “said a good brief reminded him of the television show 24.” according to a The New York Times story detailing interviews conducted with eight Supreme Court justices.
Thomas, who has gone five years without making an oral argument, was proud of the fact that his briefs could be understood by the average person, going as far as to cite an experience he had at an airport with a man who “looked like a deputy sheriff.”
“Here’s a guy who looked like he clearly didn’t go to college, who said that ‘I’ve read all your opinions.’ Well, that’s accessibility,” he said.
Despite his desire for simplicity, some criticise the Justice’s briefs as too complex.
By comparison, Justice Scalia and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. are praised for their writing skill.