John recently won Lee v. United States, his 11th argued case in the United States Supreme Court since 2011, more than all but a handful of private attorneys nationwide during that period. His Supreme Court briefs have earned three Best Brief Awards from the National Association of Attorneys General, one for each of the three years he served as Michigan Solicitor General. A recent study of the Court's 2012-15 Terms concluded that John's cert. petitions had one of the highest grant rates in the country. Another recent study on "clutch" Supreme Court practitioners included John in its "veritable who's who of Supreme Court litigators" list,  and yet another recognized John as having the 3rd highest success rate for persuading Justices to adopt his legal position among frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government.


The subject matter of John's Supreme Court cases has ranged from constitutional questions to telecommunications law to intellectual property. In the 14 merits decisions he has received (11 following oral argument, three as summary decisions), his client has prevailed ouright in ten and obtained partial relief in two more, compiling a record that the National Law Journal observed "even more veteran high court advocates would envy."


U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and summary reversals

  • Lee v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1958 (2017) (defendant can demonstrate Strickland prejudice when his lawyer misadvises him about the deportation consequences of a plea)
  • Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1002 (2017) (establishing the appropriate test for determining when a feature of a useful article is protectable under the Copyright Act)
  • Hickenlooper v. Kerr, 135 S. Ct. 2927 (2015) (assisted Colorado in obtaining summary vacation of adverse circuit court opinion in case involving validity of a so-called Taxpayers' Bill of Rights)
  • Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015) (argued on behalf of State of Michigan in defending its constitutional definition of marriage)
  • Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 134 S. Ct. 2024 (2014) (granting client the ability to file Ex Parte Young-type actions against tribal officials to circumvent trival immunity)
  • Schuette v. Coalition to Defend, 134 S. Ct. 1623 (2014) (upholding Michigan's constitutional ban on discrimination or the use of race- or sex-based factors in public-university admissions)
  • Burt v. Titlow, 134 S. Ct. 10 (2013) (reinstating murder conviction based on habeas petitioner's failure to satisfy the burden of proof under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)
  • McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S. Ct. 1924 (2013) (reversing Sixth Circuit and emphasizing the high bar to proving actual innocence for purpose of a time-barred habeas claim)
  • Metrish v. Lancaster, 133 S. Ct. 1781 (2013) (reinstating murder conviction and holding that a Michigan Supreme Court change in common law could be applied retroactively)
  • Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376 (2012) (affirming defendant's Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel at the plea stage but rejecting a new-trial remedy and authorizing trial courts to refuse a convicted defendant's ability to accept a previously rejected plea)
  • Howes v. Walker, 132 S. Ct. 2741 (2012) (summary reversal of Sixth Circuit decision vacating murder conviction)
  • Howes v. Fields, 132 S. Ct. 1181 (2012) (reinstating sexual-assault conviction and holding that a prisoner was not "in custody" for purposes of a Miranda warning)
  • Stovall v. Miller, 132 S. Ct. 573 (2011) (summary reversal of Sixth Circuit decision vacating murder conviction)
  • Talk America v. Michigan Bell Telephone Co., 131 S. Ct. 2254 (2011) (reversing Sixth Circuit and holding that competitive local exchange carriers, or CLECs, are entitled to regulated rates when engaged in interconnection with customers of incumbent local exchange carriers, or ILECs)


Representative U.S. Supreme Court amici briefs

  • Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., No. 13-354 (constitutionality of requiring for-profit corporations to provide employee health insurance covering abortifacient drugs)
  • Sprint Communications Co. v. Jacobs, No. 12-815 (brief in support of Iowa regarding federalism and Youngerabstention)
  • Madigan v. Levin, No. 12-872 (brief regarding whether the ADEA preempts § 1983 for age-discrimination claims)
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, No. 12-484 (brief arguing mixed-motive analysis does not apply to Title VII retaliation claims)
  • Bailey v. United States, No. 11-770 (brief in support of the United States regarding detention of a suspect incident to a search)
  • Blueford v. Arkansas, No. 10-1320 (brief in support of Arkansas regarding split jury verdicts and the Double Jeopardy Clause)
  • Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington, No. 10-945 (brief in support of local governments regarding prison search policies)
  • Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 10-553 (brief regarding ministerial exception to employment-discrimination laws)
  • Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, Nos. 09-958, 09-1158 & 10-283 (brief in support of California regarding federalism and private rights of action under Medicaid)
  • Indiana Family & Social Services Administration v. Bontrager, No. 12-1307 (brief in support of Indiana regarding federalism and private rights of action under Medicaid)
  • Elmbrook School District v. Doe, No. 12-755 (whether the Establishment Clause prevents a school from holding a graduation ceremony in a church building for reasons of secular convenience)
  • Cassens Transport Co. v. Brown, No. 12-622 (relationship between state workers’ compensation system and the federal RICO Act)
  • Michigan Department of Community Health v. Sebelius, No. 12-589 (brief in support of Michigan regarding Medicaid reimbursement)
  • Brown v. Henley, No. 12-532 (brief regarding Title VII’s preemption of a § 1983 action for employment discrimination against a state or local government)