Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017

Publication Information

14 Legal Comm. & Rhetoric: JAWLD 45 (2017)


Scholars have long been divided over the role, function, and significance, if any, of oral argument in judicial decision-making.' Federal courts seem similarly divided, as some circuits routinely grant oral argument in almost every case, while others grant oral argument in only a small fraction of appeals. This divide should not be dismissed as merely an idiosyncratic debate or as a response to excessive workload, particularly when one considers that approximately 53,000 appeals were filed in federal courts of appeals in the year ending September 30, 2016.2 Since the Supreme Court grants certiorari in only approximately eighty cases each year, federal courts of appeal essentially act as the final arbiters of many legal issues. That means that how the federal courts decide appeals, and the process through which they reach those decisions, including the granting or withholding of oral arguments, are important to the administration of justice.



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