If all judges with jurisdiction over a case have a conflict of interest, they do not have to recuse themselves. If a lawsuit is filed against several people, it can be dismissed partially, with only relevant individuals included. In theory, could someone force the Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit by naming every other judge in the country as defendants, along with the actual defendant, causing all judges except SCOTUS justices to have a conflict of interest?

If one of the parties demanded a jury trial, how would that work? Can there be a jury SCOTUS trial?

1 Answer 1


Unless you are an ambassador or one of the US states, SCOTUS doesn't have original jurisdiction over your lawsuit, so they can't hear it either.

If you've named all the judges of all the courts that do have jurisdiction, then one of them will handle it anyway, under the doctrine of necessity noted before.

For cases that do fall within the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction, a jury trial is theoretically possible, but it appears it has not occurred since the 1790s, and only one has surviving records: Georgia v. Brailsford in 1794. See "Special Juries in the Supreme Court" by Lochlan F. Shelfer, Yale Law Journal 123:1, 2013-2014. Otherwise, non-jury original jurisdiction cases are usually delegated to a special master, a sort of "contract judge" who hears all the evidence and recommends a judgment that the full court typically rubber-stamps.

  • Thank you! What is the point of the special master, as opposed to the court ruling directly?
    – Someone
    Aug 28, 2022 at 21:05
  • @Someone: Handling a case from its beginning takes far more time than handling an appeal, and the nine justices can't afford to devote all that time to one single case. And the original jurisdiction docket is often cases like states suing each other over boundary disputes or water rights, which can be very complex and technical; the special master can be someone with expertise in that specific area of law, which the nine justices likely wouldn't have. Aug 29, 2022 at 13:38
  • @Someone: As an example, Florida v. Georgia circa 2017, a water rights case. In the special master's report, he describes the process (pp 17-24), which spanned two full years. It culminated in an evidentiary hearing lasting a month, for which he reviewed 1800 pages of written testimony, with sixty volumes of exhibits in support. If the full court had handled that case, they'd have had no time to do anything else. Aug 29, 2022 at 13:49
  • Contrast that with appellate cases. which the Court decides based on briefs limited to 15,000 words, and one or two hours of oral argument. Aug 29, 2022 at 13:49
  • If you somehow managed to arrange for no other court to have original jurisdiction; jurisdiction would revert to the supreme court; but I don't think this strategy would work. More likely, naming all other Justices as parties to the case would result in them being stricken from the case due to immunity or from non-suit. It is extremely unlikely to have a case by which all of the federal justices are involved at a personal level. They could split the case in half so that no justice has to rule on self being a relevant party.
    – Joshua
    Dec 14, 2022 at 20:23

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