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20 J.L. & Pol. 33 (2004)
Best Friends - Supreme Court Law Clerks on Effective Amicus Curiae Briefs

handle is hein.journals/jlp20 and id is 43 raw text is: Best Friends?
Supreme Court Law Clerks on Effective
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Kellyf Lynch*
Precisely what influences the justices of the United States Supreme
Court? Numerous scholars have pondered this question, addressing
it from many different perspectives: the influence of law clerks, the
preferences of Congress, and the role of public opinion.1 To date,
however, none have examined the influence of amicus curiae briefs
(amicus briefs) from the perspective of former Supreme Court law
clerks.2 This article draws upon a new data set featuring seventy
interviews with former Supreme Court law clerks who served from
1966-2001.      Their personal insights       clarify  the   role  of these
unsolicited briefs-a judicial lobbying tool that organizations and
individuals aspiring to influence the Court's decision-making process
increasingly employ.
During the October 2003 term, the subject of amicus briefs
received significant public attention. A record 107 briefs were filed
in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases3 Grutter v.
Bollinger,4 and Gratz v. Bollinger,5 while an impressive 33 amicus briefs
* Department of Justice, Tax Division. BA. University of Pennsylvania, 2003. The views
and opinions expressed in this article are solely my own and do not reflect those of the
Department ofJustice. I would like to thank Kathryn Dunn Tenpas for her invaluable advice
and encouragement.
1 See Kevin T. McGuire, Lobbyists, Revolving Doors, and the U.S. Supreme Court, 16J.L. & POL.
113, 114 (2000); Thomas G. Hansford & David F. Damore, Congressional Preferences, Perceptions of
Threat, and Supreme Court Decision Making, 28 AM. POL. Q. 490 (2000); William Mishler &
Reginald S. Sheehan, The Supreme Court as a Countermajoritarian Institution? The Impact of Public
Opinion on Supreme Court Decisions, 87 AM. POL. Sci. REV. 87 (1993).
2 Henceforth, amicus curiae briefs will be referred to as amicus briefs; filers of amicus
briefs will be referred to as amicus filers or amici.
3 Tony Mauro, Court Affirms Continued Need for Preferences, N.Y. L.J., June 23, 2003, at I
[hereinafter Mauro, Court Affirms].
4 123 S. Ct. 2325 (2003).
5 123 S. Ct. 2411 (2003).

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