Notice & Comment

Gratitude: The Collins v. Mnuchin Edition

Last August, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed me as amicus curiae to brief and argue in defense of the constitutionality of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Collins v. Mnuchin. I filed my brief in October and argued the case last month. I’m just now catching up.

I’ve always dreamed about arguing in the Supreme Court. Then reality set in. It takes a lot of work — and there isn’t much time!

Accordingly, I want to express gratitude to all who helped, including:

  • My family. This was an all-hands-on-deck experience for the Nielsons and I appreciate everyone’s support (and patience).
  • My team of students: Kade Allred, Rahgan Jensen, Jacob Marsh, Brock Mason, Garrett Meisman, Will Morrison, and Grace Nielsen. Each was indispensable. I treated them like appellate associates and they came through.
  • The greatest research librarian in the world, Iantha Haight. If there is a gold medal for research, she deserves it.
  • Joshua Prince (who helps with BYU’s Supreme Court Clinic) and James Heilpern (a corpus linguistics fellow at BYU Law). They were my students before and it was rewarding to work with them now as lawyers. (For the record, Josh was up in the middle of the night to help prepare the brief for filing.)
  • Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute and Stanford’s Supreme Court Clinic. Both generously mooted me, and for a rookie, that experience is tremendously valuable.
  • BYU Law. Everyone — from the dean to my colleagues to the help desk — was supportive. For just one of many examples, the Supreme Court does not want advocates to use VOIP phones so the tech team at BYU Law  jury-rigged a landline phone from a fax machine. It worked great.
  • My co-authors and student editors who picked up the slack for me during the editing process on pre-existing projects. It takes a lot of work to finish a law review article and I was not the most responsive author.
  • All the scholars and lawyers who volunteered advice and informal moots. Trust me: there are lots of them. For this project, the team needed real expertise. I sent a slew of emails — many to folks I’ve never met — and everyone was happy to share, even if they disagreed with the position I was asked to defend. That’s professionalism in the best sense of the word.
  • Counsel for the parties, who were quick to provide me with the record materials I needed to get up to speed. That’s also real professionalism.
  • My neighbors and friends, Mike and Sheri Brown, who loaned me their condo so I could spend a few days hiking by myself — and talking to myself! — as I prepared for oral argument.
  • Last but not least, Chris Walker, my co-pilot for this project and friend.

That’s not even close to the full list. I’m very fortunate and grateful. Thanks all.

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