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Friends of the Supreme CourtInterest Groups and Judicial Decision Making$
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Paul M. Collins

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372144.001.0001

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Amici Curiae and the Consistency

Amici Curiae and the Consistency

(p.115) CHAPTER 5 Amici Curiae and the Consistency
Friends of the Supreme Court

Paul M Collins

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the influence of amicus curiae briefs on the variability in judicial decision making. It begins by explaining the importance of understanding the consistency of judicial choice, both normatively and empirically. It argues that amicus briefs serve to attenuate the justices' reliance on their attitudes, thus increasing the ambiguity in the justices' already uncertain decision making, leading to more variable behavior. That is, by raising new issues in the Court and persuading the justices to adopt positions that are attitudinally-incongruent, amicus briefs confound the certainty surrounding the justices' perspectives as to the correct application of the law in a case. This hypothesis is subjected to empirical testing using data on the ideological direction of the individual justices' votes from 1946-2001.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, consistency, persuasion, heteroskedasticity, variance, judicial decision making, interest groups, information overload, amicus curiae

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