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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 Dissensus on the Supreme Court

Amici Curiae and Dissensus on the Supreme Court

(p.139) CHAPTER 6 Amici Curiae and Dissensus on the Supreme Court
Friends of the Supreme Court

Paul M Collins

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates whether amicus curiae briefs contribute to a justice's decision to write or join a regular concurring, special concurring, or dissenting opinion. It begins with a discussion of the importance of understanding separate opinion writing, focusing specifically on how this type of dissensus serves to highlight weaknesses in the majority opinion, presents avenues to distinguish the majority opinion for future litigation, in addition to softening disappointment with the Court's majority opinion by illustrating to members of the thwarted public that their position is supported by at least a minority of the Court. It then argues that, by providing the justices with myriad information regarding the potential legal and policy ramifications of a decision, amicus briefs create ambiguity in the justices' already uncertain decision making. This hypothesis is empirically tested by examining justices' decisions to author or join regular concurring, special concurring, and dissenting opinions during the 1946-2001 terms.

Keywords:   amicus curiae, Supreme Court, dissenting opinion, concurring opinion, separate opinion, interest groups, law, policy, uncertainty

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