September 01, 2017

Amicus Practice in the Supreme Court: Answering Hypotheticals Before They Are Asked

A few simple steps provide practical guidance for traversing today’s amicus landscape efficiently and effectively.

Jerrold J. Ganzfried

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Amicus curiae briefs have a long and storied history in American courts. Recent years have witnessed marked changes in the frequency, approach, and substance of amicus filings, most noticeably in the U.S. Supreme Court. One study calculated that amicus briefs are now filed in 98 percent of Supreme Court merits cases and that the volume of Supreme Court amicus filings is now 800 percent greater than in the 1950s, with substantial increases in the last two decades alone. Allison Orr Larsen & Neal Devins, The Amicus Machine, 102 Va. L. Rev. 1901, 1902 (2016). This growth has not gone unnoticed. Scholars and the media have undertaken efforts to explain the reasons for this dramatic upsurge and to assess the effect on the Court’s decisions.

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