Professor Kagan’s Multiple Choice Question at #SCOTUS

June 16th, 2016

Justice Kagan spices up her majority opinion in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, an otherwise mundane attorney’s fees case, with a multiple choice question.

Imagine you are Kirtsaeng at a key moment in his case—say, when deciding whether to petition this Court for certiorari. And suppose (as Kirtsaeng now wishes) that the prevailing party in a hard and important case—like this one—will probably get a fee award. Does that make you more likely to file, because you will recoup your own fees if you win? Or less likely to file, because you will foot Wiley’s bills if you lose? Here are some answers to choose from (recalling that you cannot confidently predict which way the Court will rule): (A) Six of one, half a dozen of the other. (B) Depends if I’m feeling lucky that day. (C) Less likely—this is getting scary; who knows how much money Wiley will spend on Supreme Court lawyers? (D) More likely—the higher the stakes, the greater the rush. Only if lots of people answer (D) will Kirtsaeng’s standard work in the way advertised. Maybe. But then again, maybe not.

For those of us who haven’t finished grading, this is a gentle reminder from the former Dean to get your grades in.