What Is Supplemental Authority?

Mar 30, 2022

Supplemental authority is just a fancy way of saying that a new court decision was released from a different court that is relevant to our case.

After we have already submitted our briefs, the only way to alert the court to new court decisions is to “supplement” the authority (i.e., cases) we provided in the briefs with the new authority from another court that did not exist at the time we filed our brief. Hence the term, “supplemental authority.”

For example, last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Ramirez v. Collier that involved an application of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which is the sister statute to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that is relevant to our case. The SCOTUS ruling in the Ramirez case supports the argument regarding RFRA laid out in our case. Thus, we filed the Ramirez opinion as a supplemental authority in Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin.

On top of that, we filed supplemental authority yesterday at the Eleventh Circuit on the Supreme Court’s decision in Austin v. Navy SEALS 1-26. And, just to keep your heading spinning, we are going to file another supplemental authority today with the district court on the class certification motion and the preliminary injunction issues.

So yes, three separate filings in one week! Going on record with the court to say, "Hey, look at this! This happened, it's important, and supports our case!"

We know this is a lot to keep up with, but welcome to Liberty Counsel's "Law School on the Fly." Hope this helps!

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