chapter  12
17 Pages

Interest Groups and Their Influence on Judicial Policy PAUL M . COLLINS , J R

Interest groups participate in virtually all aspects of the American political and legal systems. In electoral politics, organizations regularly make campaign donations to candidates and many groups endorse individuals seeking political office. In the legislative sphere, interest groups draft legislation, testify in front of committees, and meet with legislators in hopes of having their preferred policies written into law. In the executive branch, organizations monitor the implementation of policies, testify before regulatory boards, and work with bureaucrats in an attempt to ensure that their prerogatives are reflected in policy implementation. More generally, interest groups mount grassroots lobbying campaigns, aimed at building public support for the groups’ goals, in addition to engaging in orchestrated efforts to educate the public regarding their agendas and policy objectives. And, of course, groups are no strangers to the American judiciary. In recent years, interest groups have participated in more than 90% of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court (Collins 2008, 47). The purpose of this chapter is to explore the role of interest groups in the United States Supreme Court, paying special attention to the primary means of interest group involvement in the judiciary: amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) participation. This method of lobbying is a staple of interest group activity in the American legal system, as well as other legal systems throughout the world. First, the various methods of interest group litigation in the American courts are addressed. Next, I provide a treatment of interest group amicus curiae participation in the Supreme Court. It is illustrated that, in recent years, virtually all Supreme Court cases are accompanied by amicus curiae briefs and these briefs are filed across a wide spectrum of issue areas. Following this, I discuss the types of organizations that file amicus briefs in the Supreme Court. I provide evidence that a diverse array of interest groups actively participate, indicating that a host of organizations find a voice in the Court. Fourth, I provide an overview of extant scholarship on amicus influence on the Supreme Court. This chapter closes with a brief conclusion section suggesting directions for future research on amicus curiae participation in the Supreme Court, as well as interest group litigation in other judicial venues.