My suspicion is all supreme court justices have their minds made up about a given case well before it is argued in front of them. Do we have any examples of a justice who had their mind changed by the arguments presented to them?
NOTE: For this I mean any supreme court justice, any time and of any political stripe.
I think that is because an argument in front of SCOTUS is 99.623% the briefs filed and not orals.
Since this is IMHO and not FQ, I will say yes FDR did when he said, “Maybe you old guys need a little help getting on track with the New Deal.”
I’m an administrative law judge, and previously gave many an oral argument before courts of appeals. At the courts of appeals level, I can remember a couple of cases in which I felt my argument really had some effect. I’d have to imagine that at the level of the Supremes, the percentage would be considerably lower.
I’ve read many histories of the Supreme Court. I don’t remember specific cases, but I know examples were given in which the justices’ draft opinions swayed opponents. Not every SC case is a historic public policy debate. Many of them have to reconcile conflicting decisions by lower courts, meaning that good reasoning on both sides has already been laid out and no easy answer is possible. OTOH, some are without clear precedent and no easy answer is forthcoming there either. All that is besides the times when the outliers are persuaded to come together for a unanimous decision, as with Brown v Board of Education, which took a lot of persuasion.
Whether and how much oral arguments make a difference isn’t clear. Probably not often. Amicus curie briefs may be more influential because they do the groundwork for the clerks listing all the previous cases and their histories.
The notion that all cases are decided ahead of time is definitely not supported by historians, though. The issues are normally too complex and not all politically driven.
I’d appreciate anyone offering their opinion as to how oral args would significantly affect things.
-You have certain predispositions and are familiar with a lot of relevant principles and history.
-An issue is raised, and you consider it enough to decide how to vote on cert, including reviewing the proceedings below.
-You’ve got a staff of damned bright clerks to research and colleagues you respect to discuss it with.
-The parties and interested parties brief the heck out of it, and you can have your clerks flyspeck those.
So after all that, the interested parties get up there and present what they consider to be their best arguments in 30 minutes - less questions.
What about that 30 minutes is likely to sway you from what you’ve concluded up to that point?
This discussion of Brown v. Board of Ed indicates that over the course of oral arguments and internal discussion several justices changed their minds (and one died and was replaced, a more dramatic changing of mind than the OP is looking for).
Conference notes and draft decisions illustrate the division of opinions before the decision was issued. Justices Douglas, Black, Burton, and Minton were predisposed to overturn Plessy .Fred M. Vinson noted that Congress had not adopted desegregation legislation; Stanley F. Reed discussed incomplete cultural assimilation and states’ rights, and was inclined to the view that segregation worked to the benefit of the African-American community; Tom C. Clark wrote that “we had led the states on to think segregation is OK and we should let them work it out.”
Didn’t readily see where that article said anything presented during oral arguments changed anyone’s opinion. Only that discussions among the justices took place during the time that 2 arguments were held.
I see that I may have misread the OP. It says only arguments, which I may have been mistaken in reading as ORAL arguments - as opposed to written arguments in the pleadings. I’m sure it is not infrequent for justices to find persuasion in the written submissions.