How to Address a Letter to a Supreme Court Judge

By Eric Feigenbaum
Letters to the U.S. Supreme Court should be formal and respectful.

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The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court review some of the most challenging cases facing the American legal system and make decisions that not only settle the cases at hand, but create precedents that affect the application of law forever more. By constitutional design, the Supreme Court is responsible to the Constitution of the United States and not to the general public or even to elected officials. That means that if you intend to write a letter to one of the justices, you'll need it to be respectful, interesting and relevant to them.

Use or create formal letterhead for your letter. The Supreme Court is a formal institution, and your letter should have the correct appearance to appear credible. Your name should be either at the top of the better with your address at the bottom in the manner law firms and businesses use on their stationery. Alternatively, in the top right of the page on three separate lines, include your name; street address; city, state and zip code.

Place the name and address of your letter recipient three or four lines down from the top right corner of your letterhead. Use the abbreviation Hon. before the name of the judge to whom you are writing. The second line of the address should say "Supreme Court of the United States of America." The third line should read "1 First St. NE" and the fourth line "Washington D.C. 20543."

Include the date of writing one line below the judge's address, but right-aligned so that it sits below the sender address in the top right corner of the page.

Begin writing your letter two to three lines below the recipient's address. Use the salutation, "Your Honor" followed by a colon. Move two more lines down to begin your first body paragraph.

State the purpose of your letter in the first sentence or two. Most likely either a security professional or a court clerk will be the first person to look at your letter. First and foremost, you need whomever first reviews it to know that your letter is safe and does not present a security risk. Second, the court clerk who handles the mail needs to immediately recognize the letter's relevance to the justice you're addressing.

Use polite, formal language for the body of your letter. Do not use expletives or slang. Keep your sentences concise and your meaning clear. Use "your honor" interchangeably with "you" --- it is considered respectful to refer to judges by their titles when communicating with them.

Conclude with a respectful closure such as "Respectfully," "Cordially" or "Sincerely." Sign your name below your closure and include a printed version of your name below it.

About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.

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