Amici Curiae and Judicial Decision Making

Paul M Collins

in Friends of the Supreme Court

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195372144
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199870813 | DOI:
 Amici Curiae and Judicial Decision Making

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This chapter discusses the legal and attitudinal models of judicial decision making and introduces two competing theories for the possible influence of amicus briefs in the Supreme Court. It expands on our conceptions of both of the legal and attitudinal models by illustrating how the influence of amicus briefs fits squarely in-line with these divergent views of the choices justices make, in addition to constructing two general and competing theories as to how political actors process persuasive communication. The chapter considers amicus briefs as sources of legal and political information and examines whether their influence is mediated by judicial ideology (that is, dependent upon the congruence of the information in the briefs with the policy preferences of the justices), building on the cognitive response model developed in social psychology. The hypotheses are subjected to empirical scrutiny using data on the ideological direction of the individual justices' votes from 1946-2001.

Keywords: attitudinal model; legal model; Supreme Court; cognitive response; motivated reasoning; persuasion; social psychology; judicial decision making; amicus curiae

Chapter.  15938 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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