Supreme Court Clinic

Supreme CourtIn UCLA’s Supreme Court Clinic, students and faculty work together on real cases before the United States Supreme Court.

If you are an attorney who would like our assistance with any aspect of Supreme Court practice, please contact the clinic director, Professor Stuart Banner.

Current Cases

Lee v. Tam, 15-1293, cert. granted Sept. 29, oral argument Jan. 18

The Lanham Act prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage” persons or institutions. On behalf of clinic client Simon Tam, the leader of a Portland-based band called The Slants, we argue that this provision is contrary to the First Amendment. We are collaborating on this case with John Connell, Ronald Coleman, and their colleagues at Archer & Greiner, who represented Tam in the lower courts.

Merits brief
Certiorari-stage brief for respondent


Murr v. Wisconsin, 15-214

St. Croix County, Wisconsin, allows the development of a substandard lot only if the lot is in separate ownership from adjacent lots. In this Takings Clause case, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Counties et al., in which we demonstrate that such “merger” provisions have been so common for so long that they could not surprise any well-advised landowner. We are collaborating on this case with Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center.

Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Counties et al.


Weaver v. Massachusetts, 16-240

We filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in which we argue that the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial should not be inadvertently forfeited when defense counsel incompetently fails to object to a courtroom closure. Rather, the right to a public trial should be among the rights that can be given up only by a knowing and intelligent waiver. We are collaborating on this case with David Porter at the NACDL.

Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Murphy v. Smith, 16-1067

When a prisoner obtains a monetary judgment in a section 1983 suit and the prisoner’s lawyer is awarded attorney’s fees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act requires that a portion of the judgment “not to exceed 25 percent” go toward the fees. In a certiorari petition we filed on behalf of former prisoner Charles Murphy, we argue that the Seventh Circuit erroneously requires prisoners to pay the full 25 percent in every case. We are collaborating on this case with Fabian Rosati, who represented Murphy in the lower courts.

Certiorari petition


Heaven v. Colorado, 16-1225

In Colorado and many other jurisdictions, a warrantless search incident to arrest may precede the arrest. So long as the police have probable cause to make an arrest, they may conduct a search, see what they find, and only then decide whether to make the arrest. In a certiorari petition we filed on behalf of Jacqueline Heaven, we argue that these searches violate the Fourth Amendment. We are collaborating on this case with John Plimpton and the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, who represented Heaven in the lower courts.

Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Xue v. Sessions, 16-1274

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit holds that being forced to practice one’s religion in secret does not constitute “persecution” for asylum purposes. In a certiorari petition we filed on behalf of Ting Xue, who seeks asylum because in China he is not allowed to practice Christianity openly, we argue that a person suffers persecution if he must practice his religion in secret to avoid state-imposed punishment. We are collaborating on this case with Fred Rowley and his colleagues at Munger, Tolles & Olson, who represented Xue in the lower courts.

Certiorari petition


Bolden v. Missouri, 16-1308

When a criminal defendant is deprived of counsel at a pretrial competency proceeding and is subsequently convicted, some jurisdictions hold that the appropriate remedy is to conduct a retrospective competency hearing to determine whether the defendant was competent several years earlier when he was tried. In a certiorari petition we filed on behalf of Darrell Bolden, we argue that a retrospective competency hearing is not an adequate remedy, and that the appropriate remedy is the reversal of the conviction. We are collaborating on this case with Amy Bartholow and the Missouri State Public Defender, who represented Bolden in the lower courts.

Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply

Recent Cases

Nelson v. Colorado, 137 S. Ct. 1249 (2017)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Heffernan v. City of Paterson, 136 S. Ct. 1412 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Torres v. Lynch, 136 S. Ct. 1619 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Betterman v. Montana, 136 S. Ct. 1609 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Utah v. Strieff, 136 S. Ct. 2056 (2016)

Merits brief
Brief in opposition