Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 42
61 Pages Posted: 2 May 2006
This article examines the citations of amicus briefs by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in cases in which she authored the opinion for the Supreme Court to learn how amicus briefs might influence judicial behavior. Consistent with theories proposed in the political science literature, O'Connor was most likely to cite amicus briefs for specialized facts. She was also likely to cite briefs filed by the Solicitor General, prestigious professional associations and the states. Surprisingly, she was more likely to cite amicus briefs when she disagreed than agreed with their legal position. Contrary to hypotheses found in the political science literature, O'Connor never cited briefs authored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or other organizations associated with highly liberal or conservative political perspectives. These findings might cause some public interest groups to re-think their amicus brief strategy in the Supreme Court if O'Connor is reflective of Supreme Court Justices, generally. Nonetheless, O'Connor's failure to cite certain kinds of amicus briefs does not necessarily mean that she did not take their views seriously, because she frequently adopted the position of the Solicitor General despite rarely citing him with approval. Justice O'Connor portrayed herself in her opinions as only being friends of moderate organizations but, privately, one can only speculate as to what views truly influenced her judicial behavior.
Keywords: amici, friend of the court
JEL Classification: D71, K10, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Colker, Ruth, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Friends. Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 66, 2006; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 64; Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 42. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=899630