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70 Dep't of Just. J. Fed. L. & Prac. 85 (2022)
Friends of the Court: Amicus Briefs an Statements of Interest in Civil Rights Cases

handle is hein.journals/usab70 and id is 89 raw text is: Friends of the Court: Amicus
Briefs and Statements of Interest
in Civil Rights Cases
Susan K. DeClercq
Chief, Civil Rights Unit
Eastern District of Michigan
Elizabeth Parr Hecker
Special Litigation Counsel
Appellate Section
Civil Rights Division
I. Introduction
One of the principal roles of the Department of Justice (Department)
is protecting the civil rights of all individuals in the United States. It
does this primarily through investigations and enforcement actions by
the Civil Rights Division (Division), in partnership with U.S.
Attorney's Offices. But private individuals also bring civil rights
actions in federal court. The Department has a strong interest in
ensuring that these cases' federal civil rights laws are interpreted and
applied consistently across the country.
Indeed, from time to time, private civil rights litigation will present
a particularly novel or important issue regarding the interpretation of
a federal civil rights statute or constitutional provision. In those
instances, the United States may wish to formally provide its views to
assist the court in reaching the correct decision. This article discusses
the two ways the Department may do this without becoming a party
to the litigation: filing statements of interest under 28 U.S.C. § 517 in
district courts and filing amicus briefs in the federal courts of appeals
under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, subject to
authorization by the Solicitor General's Office.
II. Statements of interest
Apart from enforcing the federal civil rights laws through its own
investigations and litigation, the Department can file briefs in trial
court cases brought by private parties where the United States is not
a party. These briefs, typically referred to as statements of interest
(SOIs), enable the Department to present its view of the law to a court
without formally intervening or otherwise becoming a party in a case.

DOJ Journal of Federal Law and Practice

January 2022


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