Note on briefs
Reader Joe Heater emails:
"An off topic question for Dave or any one who would like to answer this question and observation of a non-lawyer, a slightly tongue in cheek one. I decided after reading four amicus curiae briefs regarding the Heller v DC case, that the legal profession is the least “green” of the majors. The briefs are 45 to 75 pages in length and most of the pages use no more than 33% of the available space for text, the rest is white space. I don’t print the briefs but I imagine many people are. The forests are crying tonight as they “donate” their cellulose for white space. Reading sixty or seventy pages on the monitor is not my idea of a good time. Another thing that ragged me was the footnotes that covered two pages when there was more than ample space on the originating page to complete the note. What a pain! If you lawyers want to go to the green hall of fame, convince the profession they could save countless trees by using at least 66% of the available space on a page.
On another note, Dave K. linked to a brief filed by Jeffery B. Teichert on behalf of Scholars Correcting Myths Deployed by Opponents of an Individual Rights Interpretation… and it is a great history lesson. If you are interested, here it is.
The answer on the white space is simple--in the Sup. Ct., your briefs have to be printed, as in on a printing press, and in a special booklet size. 6.5 x 9.5 inches, something like that. The Court only recent went to electronic filing in pdf. So when you lay out a brief in that format, on .pdf for standard 8.5 x 11 paper, there's some huge margins!
And you'll notice that (depending upon how the printing company creates the pdf), the pages may be centered, or set at left margin, or alternate left and right (which is how the printed page would be, since it's printed two-sided).
Yup. Supreme Court has quite strict rules on printing. Every set of briefs has a different color cover, so the Justices can keep track of things. You must use a particular set of fonts (Century). The rules even dictate the "leading" of the printed page. A wise person goes with one of the 2-3 printing firms that specialize in Supreme Court briefs.