Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation

Williams & Connolly’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best and most experienced. The practice is led by renowned appellate litigator Lisa Blatt, who has argued 46 cases—more than any woman in history—and has won nearly 90% of them. The practice argued 17 Supreme Court merits cases over the past four Terms. During the 2022-23 Term alone, the group was lead counsel in eight merits cases and argued seven cases—a record for any group in private practice, comprising more than 13% of the Court’s entire merits docket. 

The practice features a deep bench of ideologically diverse attorneys with a wealth of experience in and out of government. Practice head Lisa Blatt served for 13 years in the Solicitor General’s Office, clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and has won virtually every award or recognition in the legal field, including being named The American Lawyer’s 2021 “Litigator of the Year.” Partner Sarah Harris has argued five Supreme Court cases in the past three Terms, served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, and clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. Partner Amy Saharia, who clerked for Justice Sotomayor, has argued two Supreme Court cases in the past three Terms.  The practice counts Supreme Court clerks from nearly every chamber, and the firm’s ranks include 22 former Supreme Court clerks and approximately 200 former clerks from all 13 federal courts of appeals. 

Partners and associates alike routinely argue in federal and state appellate courts across the country, including in a wide array of pro bono matters ranging from immigration and asylum work to representing religious groups and nonprofits in the Supreme Court on religious liberty issues.

Representative matters run the gamut of substantive areas and types of clients and include:

Representative Experience

U.S. Supreme Court

  • Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC, No. 22-148 (2023) – (1) Whether humorous use of another’s trademark as one’s own on a commercial product is subject to the Lanham Act’s traditional likelihood-of-confusion analysis, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1), or instead receives heightened First Amendment protection from trademark-infringement claims; and (2) whether humorous use of another’s mark as one’s own on a commercial product is “noncommercial” and thus bars as a matter of law a claim of dilution by tarnishment under the Trademark Dilution Revision Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(3)(C).
  • Harry C. Calcutt III v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. No. 22-714 (2023) – Secured unanimous opinion summarily reversing the Sixth Circuit in favor of client Harry Calcutt. The Supreme Court held that the Sixth Circuit erred in upholding a FDIC disciplinary order against Mr. Calcutt after finding that the FDIC had made legal errors in adjudicating the case.
  • Gonzalez v. Google LLC, No. 21-1333 (2023) and Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, No. 21-1496 (2023) – Successfully represented Google in case concerning the Antiterrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. § 2333 and in persuading the Court not to address the scope of Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act.
  • Dupree v. Younger, No. 22-210 (2023) – Whether to preserve an issue for appellate review a party must reassert in a post-trial motion a purely legal issue rejected in an order denying summary judgment.
  • Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States, No. 21-1450 (2023) – Secured reversal and remand for further proceedings regarding scope of common-law immunity from criminal prosecution for foreign sovereign instrumentalities. 
  • Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, Inc., No. 22-96 (2023) – Whether the Board can claim immunity from federal suits under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.
  • Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, No. 21-869 (2023) – Secured holding that the Andy Warhol Foundation’s use of a copyrighted photograph does not favor the Foundation’s fair use defense to copyright infringement.
  • Bartenwerfer v. Buckley, No. 21-908 (2023) – Whether a bankruptcy debtor can discharge debts arising from someone else’s fraud under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A). 
  • Concepcion v. United States, No. 20-1650 (2022) – Secured holding that a district court may consider intervening legal and factual developments when deciding whether to “impose a reduced sentence” on an individual under Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018.
  • Egbert v. Boule, 596 U.S. __ (2022) – Secured holding on behalf of Erik Egbert, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, in a case involving whether to recognize constitutional damages actions against individual federal officers for First Amendment retaliation claims or for Fourth Amendment claims involving border-security-related functions. The decision was 9-0 as to the First Amendment claim and 6-3 as to the Fourth Amendment claim.  
  • Badgerow v. Walters, 596 U.S. __ (2022) – Whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act when the basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question.
  • Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 593 U.S. __ (2021) – Whether, under 8 U.S.C. § 1254a(f)(4), a grant of temporary protected status authorizes eligible noncitizens to obtain lawful-permanent-resident status under 8 U.S.C. § 1255.
  • Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., 594 U.S. __ (2021) – Whether, consistent with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, public school officials may regulate off-campus student speech that would materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school.
  • Carr v. Saul, 593 U.S. __ (2021) – Secured ruling that principles of issue exhaustion do not require Social Security disability claimants to argue at the agency level that the administrative law judges hearing their disability claims were unconstitutionally appointed.
  • Salinas v. U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 592 U.S. __ (2021) – Secured holding that courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review Railroad Retirement Board decisions denying requests to reopen prior benefits determinations.
  • Google v. Oracle, 593 U.S. __ (2021) – Secured ruling in favor of Google that Google’s use of Java interfaces in creating Google’s Android system constitutes fair use.
  • United States Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com, 591 U.S. __ (2020) – Secured significant ruling in favor of client Booking.com that the addition of a generic top-level domain (“.com”) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark. 
  • Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, 590 U.S. ___ (2020) – Secured ruling holding that Superfund site landowners cannot sue defendants to implement an alternative cleanup plan that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not approved.
  • Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., 590 U.S. ___ (2020) – Secured unanimous ruling holding that plaintiffs in trademark infringement suits are not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award. 
  • Michigan Senate v. League of Women Voters, 139 S. Ct. 2635 (2019) – In April 2019, a district court invalidated Michigan’s congressional maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.  The Michigan Senate retained Williams & Connolly to oversee the stay briefing.  On May 24, the Court took the highly unusual step of granting the stay, and on October 21, 2019, the Court vacated the judgment and remanded to the district court for further consideration in light of Rucho v. Common Cause, 588 U.S.  ___ (2019).

Federal Courts of Appeal and State Appellate Courts

  • Greenberg v. Lehocky, 81 F.4th 376 (3d Cir. 2023) – Successfully represented Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board in obtaining dismissal for lack of standing of First Amendment and due process challenge to attorney antidiscrimination rule.
  • In Re: Zofran (Ondansetron) Products Liability Litigation, 57 F.4th 327 (1st Cir. 2023) – Secured affirmance of summary judgment in favor of client in multi-district product liability litigation involving more than 400 plaintiffs.
  • Caremark LLC v. Chickasaw Nation, 43 F.4th 1021 (9th Cir. 2022) – Secured affirmance of order granting CVS Health subsidiary Caremark, LLC and others’ petition to compel arbitration of a dispute with the Chickasaw Nation and five pharmacies that the Nation owns and operates. 
  • Edward Jones, Jr. v. Slade, et al., 23 F.4th 1124 (9th Cir. 2022) – Secured ruling in favor of client in an important case involving freedom of expression and religious liberty.
  • Irving Firemen’s Relief & Retirement Fund v. Uber Technologies Inc., et al., 998 F.3d 397 (9th Cir. 2021) – Secured affirmance of dismissal of complaint alleging securities fraud against Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick.
  • JTH Tax v. Aime, 984 F.3d 284 (4th Cir. 2021) – Secured ruling in favor of our client that franchisee had not met the standard for relief based on newly discovered evidence, and rejecting the franchisee’s cross-appeal.  
  • CBE Grp v. Lexington Law Firm, 993 F.3d 346 (5th Cir. 2021) – Secured affirmance of judgment as a matter of law in favor of firm clients in fraud action.
  • Apotex Corp. v. Hospira Healthcare India Private Ltd., 827 Fed. App’x 149 (2d Cir. 2020) – Secured affirmance of dismissal of claims alleging various tort claims and accompanying damages theories.
  • In re: Mirena IUS Levonorgestrel, 982 F.3d 113 (2nd Cir. 2020) – Secured affirmance of the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in multidistrict litigation asserting products liability claims related to Bayer’s Mirena birth control device.  
  • Nowell v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 19-2073 (10th Cir. 2021) – Secured affirmance of trial court’s decision granting the company’s motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that the applicable statutes of limitations barred all of the plaintiff’s state law claims.  
  • Glaxo Group Ltd. v. DRIT, 248 A.3d 911 (Del. Supreme Court 2021) – In a landmark implied-covenant contractual case before the Delaware Supreme Court, won reversal of a jury verdict against GSK awarding approximately $100 million in royalty payments.
  • Dolin v. GlaxoSmithKline, 951 F.3d 882 (7th Cir. 2020) – Successfully represented drug manufacturer in connection with plaintiff’s bid to vacate the Seventh Circuit’s earlier decision that plaintiff’s inadequate labeling claims were preempted.  In one of the first appellate decisions after the Supreme Court’s preemption decision in Merck v. Albrecht, the Seventh Circuit held that it would have reached the same preemption holding even after Albrecht
  • Google LLC v. Koninklijke Philips N.V., No. 19-1234 (Fed. Cir. 2019) – Secured ruling overturning an earlier decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) that had upheld a patent owned by Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV in inter partes review proceedings instituted by Google.  In a unanimous decision, the Federal Circuit held that Google had shown the Philips patent was invalid as obvious. 
  • Eli Lilly v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, 933 F.3d 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2019) – The firm secured two successive victories before the Federal Circuit on behalf of its client Eli Lilly in matters against several generic drug manufacturers who challenged a patent protecting Lilly’s blockbuster anti- cancer drug Alimta®; subsequently defeated the challengers’ petitions for certiorari in the Supreme Court.
  • Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. HSBC Bank USA NA, 34 N.Y.3d 327 (2019) – Secured a precedent-setting ruling from New York’s highest court that affirmed dismissal of claims seeking more than half a billion dollars against the bank. 
  • BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID 100281817, 919 F.3d 284 (5th Cir. 2019) – Secured reversal of a lower court decision holding that NBA player David West was entitled to damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

Primary Contacts

Recognitions

Appellate Law (Nationwide), Chambers USA, 2013-2023

Supreme Court and Appellate - Tier 1, Benchmark Litigation, 2015-2023

Appellate (Supreme Court), The Legal 500, 2010-2023

Appellate (Courts of Appeals), The Legal 500, 2015-2023

“Appellate Hot List,” The National Law Journal, 2015-2023

“Appellate Practice Group of the Year,” Law360, 2018, 2020-2021, 2023

Ranked #1 Law Firm for Appellate Litigation, Vault 100, 2024

Ranked #2 Law Firm for Appellate Litigation, Vault 100, 2017-2023

Williams & Connolly Client Google Wins in U.S. Supreme Court

Williams & Connolly Client Google Wins in U.S. Supreme Court

Williams & Connolly Secures U.S. Supreme Court Win on Behalf of Jack Daniel's

Williams & Connolly Secures U.S. Supreme Court Win on Behalf of Jack Daniel's

Williams & Connolly Named to The National Law Journal’s 2023 “Appellate Hot List”

Williams & Connolly Named to The National Law Journal’s 2023 “Appellate Hot List”
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