Appellate & Supreme Court

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Ropes & Gray’s seasoned appellate attorneys combine practice and industry knowledge with extensive courtroom experience to provide clients with the most effective appellate advocacy available.

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Overview

Ropes & Gray has a long and successful track record of advocating for our clients’ most vital interests before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal circuit courts and state appellate courts. Our experienced appellate litigators have argued leading, precedent-setting cases in the areas of constitutional law, intellectual property, antitrust, bankruptcy, securities, insurance, criminal law, the False Claims Act, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. 

We have won major appellate victories, sustaining favorable judgments in cases with billions of dollars at stake, and obtained reversals of adverse rulings.

Experienced Advocates

Our litigators’ extensive experience handling appeals allows us to identify possible appellate issues early in litigation and to present the case in a manner that ensures the greatest chance of success on appeal.

Our team includes veteran appellate attorneys who have served in the Office of the Solicitor General, on the appellate staffs of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil and Antitrust Divisions, and as special assistants to state attorneys general. The appellate group also calls upon the extensive practice area and industry knowledge of the firm’s 1,100 attorneys.

U.S. Supreme Court

Our appellate attorneys have argued fifteen cases before the Supreme Court, including Jones v. Harris, the landmark holding that set the standard for determining how “excessive fee” claims against mutual fund advisers under the Investment Company Act of 1940 will be litigated. Our experienced appellate litigators have filed numerous successful petitions for certiorari, persuading the Justices that the issues of significance to our clients are among the few the Court should hear each year.

We also regularly file amicus briefs on behalf of individual clients or associations, protecting their interests and providing the Court with the benefit of their experience. In United States v. Jones, one of the most important Fourth Amendment cases in a decade, we helped secure a unanimous ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court finding that the government could not use a global positioning system to track a suspect without a warrant.

Federal Circuit, Regional Federal & State Appeals Courts

Our appellate attorneys are currently litigating or have recently concluded successful appeals before the Federal Circuit dealing with issues that span the full range of patent litigation.

We also argue cases in every regional federal circuit court and many state appellate courts. Over the past several years, we have successfully resolved a wide range of civil litigation matters in which millions of dollars, and in some instances constitutional rights, were at stake for our clients. These matters involve:

  • The False Claims Act
  • Intellectual Property
  • Securities fraud claims
  • Insurance coverage
  • Allegations of excessive fees charged by mutual fund advisers
  • RICO class actions
  • Voting rights
  • The First Amendment rights of pharmaceutical companies and physicians
  • Challenges to administrative actions
  • Real estate fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation claims
  • FDA disclosures

Supreme Court

Ropes & Gray’s experienced appellate attorneys have argued fifteen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court within the past decade. 

We have filed numerous successful petitions for certiorari, ensuring that the cases that are important to our clients are among the few that the Court hears each year. The merits cases our attorneys have handled before the Court span the full range of our litigation practice and include the:

  • Unconstitutionality of imposing onerous new burdens on past business activity
  • Protection of intellectual property rights against those who facilitate infringement
  • Jurisdiction of bankruptcy judges
  • Preemption of state laws that interfere with conducting business on a national scale
  • Implied antitrust immunity
  • Limitations period for bringing securities fraud claims
  • False Claims Act’s public disclosure bar
  • Immunity of foreign states and their instrumentalities to suit

Our major successes before the Supreme Court include:

  • In Jones v. Harris Associates, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the deferential Gartenberg standard of judicial review that the courts have applied to fees charged by investment advisers to mutual funds. 
  • In Ameriprise Financial v. Gallus, also involving a challenge to investment adviser fees, we successfully petitioned for certiorari from an appellate decision that departed from Gartenberg, obtaining an order remanding the case for reconsideration in light of Jones
  • In Yeager v. United States, Ropes & Gray petitioned for certiorari on behalf of a former Enron official and won a ruling that the defendant’s acquittal on certain charges precluded retrying him on related charges as to which the original jury failed to reach a verdict.

In our active amicus practice, we file briefs in support of certiorari, and on the merits, on behalf of a wide range of clients, including:

  • Jim Obergefell and all fellow plaintiffs from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee in Tanco v. Haslam in four landmark cases concerning whether the fundamental right to marry can be denied to same-sex couples. One of the granted petitions was filed on behalf of three Tennessee couples by Ropes & Gray, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and several Tennessee firms.
  • Association of Dental Support Organizations in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC regarding the state-action immunity doctrine, which provides a narrow exception to the federal antitrust laws.
  • Anti-Defamation League, in Windsor v. United States, a case seeking to overturn as unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court ruled unconstitutional a key part of DOMA that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the states in which they reside.
  • Ten private research universities, in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, regarding the use of race in the college admissions process.
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, former Solicitor General Drew Days III, and eight former Justice Department officials, in Shelby County v. Holder, regarding whether Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutionally infringes upon state sovereignty by requiring covered jurisdictions to demonstrate that changes to voting laws are non-discriminatory before those laws are permitted to take effect.
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in FTC v. Actavis, regarding liability under the antitrust laws for Hatch-Waxman patent settlements.
  • Ten health care provider trade associations, in Douglas v. Independent Living Centers, regarding the availability of a cause of action under the Supremacy Clause to challenge Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts.
  • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and 15 other HIV-rights organizations, addressing the constitutionality of the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that most people get health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax. The recent landmark ruling from the Court upheld the constitutionality of the requirement. 
  • The Constitution Project, in a case testing the limits on police installation and use of a GPS tracking device in a suspect’s vehicle. In a significant constitutional law victory the Court held, in United States v. Jones, that the government’s warrantless installation of the GPS device violated the Fourth Amendment.
  • A group of 19 venture capital firms, in Microsoft v. i4i, explaining the importance of the clear-and-convincing standard for overcoming the presumption of a patent’s validity to investors’ decisions to fund commercialization of pharmaceutical discoveries.

Appellate

Our appellate experience extends to all areas of the firm’s litigation practice:

Antitrust

Ropes & Gray's antitrust appellate attorneys have achieved precedent-setting appellate victories in diverse issues including extraterritorial jurisdiction, substantive merger law, exclusive dealing, implied immunity, antitrust standing, monopolization, and antitrust damages.

Commercial Litigation

Our appellate litigators have achieved major victories on behalf of our clients in cases raising the most complicated legal issues, including the constitutionality of retroactive liability, the rejection of tort claims, and the arbitrability of class claims.

Government Enforcement / White Collar Crime

Ropes & Gray’s experienced government enforcement attorneys have represented many criminal defendants on appeal, often taking over the matter on appeal following trial, or seeking post-conviction relief. We have handled merits and sentencing appeals throughout the United States, including some of the most high-profile prosecutions.

Insurance

Insurers rely on Ropes & Gray to provide appellate representation when billions of dollars in claims are at stake. We have achieved major victories for our clients in cases involving the World Trade Center tragedy, Hurricane Katrina, and asbestos-in-property claims.

Intellectual Property

Ropes & Gray has a long and distinguished history of appellate advocacy relating to intellectual property rights. Our attorneys have been involved in more than 100 appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit involving issues that span the full range of patent litigation.

Labor and Employment

Ropes & Gray has achieved significant appellate victories on behalf of its labor and employment clients, in cases dealing with issues such as age discrimination and the lawfulness of a cash balance retirement plan.

Securities

Ropes & Gray’s experienced securities litigation practice has achieved significant victories for our clients at the appellate, as well as the trial court level. We have successfully defended on appeal the dismissals of numerous securities class-action suits, including litigation regarding initial public offerings—the largest-ever consolidated securities class-action. We have litigated across the United States seminal appellate cases involving the Investment Company Act, including claims relating to market timing and mutual fund fees.