Why are word counts and 'proof service' required for amicus briefs submitted to SCOTUS?

I was skimming through the amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court for a recent case and noticed that each brief was accompanied by three documents (i.e. 'Main Document, ‘Certificate of Word Count’, and a notarized 'Proof of Service’).

Why is documentation of the number of words used and a ‘Proof of Service’ statement required to be submitted along with the main document (i.e. the brief itself)?


The word count is because the Supreme Court sets limits on the allowable size of briefs. At the merits stage, the word count is around 8,000 or 9,000 words, depending who is filing.

Proof of service is a standard requirement in court proceedings. A party filing a brief has to file proof that they have served it on everyone else, so that everyone knows in advance exactly which arguments are being advanced.


pp. 5 and 6.

Thems the rules.

The court also imposes a font and text size requirement and other formatting expectations (I.e. your cites must follow a certain format. The order of the sections - title page; citation page; et al - are also mandated).

This is typical for appellate courts. It’s all spelled out in Rules of Procedure.

(I believe that the logic is that the court wants uniformity of presentation - and a finite scope for the size of the argument - so that the best and most concise legal issues are addressed. Or they are just old and ornery).

From Rule 37(5), concerning Amicus Briefs

There’s similar page restrictions etc in the Supreme Court of Canada. Parties get forty pages. Attorneys General get 20 pages when they intervene as of right. Other interveners get 10 pages, including AGs who are intervening by leave rather than by right.

Why can’t it be both? :grinning:

It almost certainly is! I mean, they seem to mandate ludicrously large fonts and spacing, which I believe is so that their old eyes can read the print. But it’s also because the judges don’t want to be bothered with the flashy and flowery rhetorical flourishes that must be edited out of a limited sized document; that editing forces the legal principles to be addressed directly.