Winning brief was filed in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has announced that Attorney General Mike Hunter’s Solicitor General Unit has received the organization’s 2020 U.S. Supreme Court Best Brief Award.
The annual award honors state attorneys, who collectively handle more U.S. Supreme Court cases than almost anyone else in the legal community. The winners were selected by a panel of independent U.S. Supreme Court experts who are experienced Supreme Court practitioners.
“This team is very deserving of this award,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The attorneys and support staff in the Solicitor General’s Unit work long hours on some of the most complex legal cases facing our state, while also defending state laws and upholding the Constitution. This award is a testament to their hard work and dedication on behalf of the state of Oklahoma. I am proud and very fortunate to have Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani and his talented team working for this office.”
Attorney General Hunter filed the winning brief in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case. In the brief, the state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a Montana Supreme Court decision that held Montana's school-choice scholarship program had to be eliminated because it allowed parents and their children the option of using scholarships at private religious schools.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of school choice and religious liberty and cited the attorney general’s brief in doing so. It was the only amicus brief - out of nearly 45 - that the Supreme Court explicitly relied upon in its landmark decision.
The authors on the brief for Oklahoma were Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani and Assistant Solicitors General Zach West and Bryan Cleveland. The brief was co-authored by attorneys in the Georgia and Arizona attorneys general offices. Additionally, 15 other states joined the brief.
“Appellate practitioners have a deep impact on state attorney general efforts to protect citizens from wrongdoing and defend state laws and officers,” said Dan Schweitzer, chief counsel of the NAAG Center for Supreme Court Advocacy. “The Best Brief Awards recognize that appellate brief writing is a specialized skill. Congratulations to the winners for their commendable accomplishments.”
The Solicitor General’s Unit serves as the chief advocate in front of the Oklahoma and U.S. Supreme Courts. Attorneys in this unit also defend the constitutionality of state law. Additionally, the Solicitor General’s Unit regularly authors amicus briefs for submission to the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts across the nation.
Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani
Assistant Solicitor General Zach West
Assistant Solicitor General Bryan Cleveland