Columbia Law School Professor Michael C. Dorf has this fascinating look at the most cited SCOTUS decision from the October 2006 term. Was it Gonzales v. Carhart (the partial-birth abortion decision) (cited eleven times)? Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (the race-based schooling case) (cited two times)?


No, it is the oft-overlooked–by everyone except the federal courts–decision of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, cited 457 times, in which Justice Souter, writing for the Court, seemed to hold that notice pleading might no longer suffice, at least in conpiracy cases. Justice Souter suggested district judges must take care to require allegations that reach the level suggesting conspiracy before permitting a case to go forward.

Any thought that Twombly, instead of ushering in a heightened pleading standard for conspiracy or antitrust conspiracy cases, was really a decision requiring more factual detail for all categories of cases, has seemingly already been rebuffed by the Court itself. In it’s June opinion in Erickson v. Pardus, the Court unanimously cited Twombly as rejecting any requirement of factual detail in a lawsuit by a prisoner alleging cruel and unusual punishment.

Hence the confusion and the nearly five hundred cites to the opinion. Just another testament to the maxim that the cases which stir up the most headlines are not neccessarily the same ones that stir up the bar.

Thx to Prof. Dorf and Findlaw