The public is used to hearing about the Supreme Court's rulings on things like the rights of the accused or the First Amendment, and they assume other subjects get similarly regular attention. But we lawyers know it's a big deal when the court rules on an issue in our practice areas. I daresay every legal specialist can identify at least one issue important to his or her practice that has been hanging around for years waiting for dispositive treatment by the high court.
Because the stakes can be high on which way the court rules, much energy is put into getting the right set of facts for your side in the certiorari chain. Both defendants and plaintiffs alike know they will probably get only one bite of the apple so they want the case the court hears to be "just right."