Instead, he looked systematically for cases in which lower courts disagreed about a legal issue, a situation more likely to draw the Supreme Court’s attention.
Goldstein avidly pursued clients in these cases, regardless of their ability to pay. Goldstein said he was paid only a few thousand dollars for the first eight cases he argued at the Supreme Court in a three-year period. “It was the only way to get from there to here,” he said.
The method now is considered routine, but when he first started doing it, other Supreme Court lawyers looked askance. Chief Justice John Roberts, in private practice at the time, was one of them. He compared what Goldstein did to a heart surgeon cold-calling prospective patients.
In October 2002, the other thing Goldstein surmised might help the law firm he and Howe were running from their house was a blog. “Turns out it was a really stupid idea,” Goldstein said in a C-SPAN interview. “People don’t say, ‘Get me the guy with the website.”’
His fortunes have changed since then. Now with 30 arguments under his belt, he is among only a few lawyers in private practice who have argued multiple cases at the court in recent years.
The blog got a huge boost in credibility when it hired veteran reporter Lyle Denniston, who began covering the Supreme Court during the Eisenhower administration. He wants a formal press credential for Denniston, whose pass is courtesy of a Boston public radio station for which he works only rarely, and maybe even Howe.
The court has remained noncommittal about how to treat SCOTUSblog. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said she is reviewing the credentialing process for the first time in nearly 40 years. “We won’t act on any pending requests until we have completed that process,” Arberg said.
Follow Mark Sherman on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/shermancourt .
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.