The Changing Effect of Amicus Curiae Briefs on the United States Supreme Court
Cross, Alexander Nathan
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Christopher Jon Zorn, Thesis Supervisor Dr. Christopher Jon Zorn, Thesis Supervisor Dr. Gretchen G Casper, Honors Advisor
United States Supreme Court interest groups politics amicus curiae briefs
This thesis builds upon the existing literature on the United States Supreme Court and amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs. It examines the influence of amicus briefs during the Court‘s gatekeeping decisions and final case rulings. In order to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the Court's behavior over time, I independently collected data relating to amicus brief advocacy on writs of certiorari petitions during the 2007 term. I propose and test explanations for amicus briefs‘ varied impact at both the United States Supreme Court‘s gatekeeping and final case ruling stages. I hypothesize that amicus briefs will have a stronger impact on the likelihood of the Court granting certiorari when the Court receives a greater number of petitions for review. Second, I argue that amicus briefs will be more influential on case rulings when the Court's ideology closely mirrors a brief's ideological disposition. My results indicate that the role of amicus curiae briefs at the gatekeeping stage is more nuanced and irregular than the current literature may suggest, while the effect of amici at the merits stage is largely shaped by justice ideology.