Kane: Measuring the Influence of Amici in State Supreme Courts

Jenna Becker Kane of Temple University presented a paper entitled Measuring the Influence of Amici in State Supreme Courts, at APSA 2013.

Here is the abstract:

Despite well documented proof that both the number and diversity of amicus participation in state high courts has been growing, little progress has been made in determining whether or not amicus briefs influence state court outcomes or the mechanism through which this influence is exerted. By utilizing an original dataset of amicus briefs filed in all products liability cases across the fifty states from 1995-2010, this paper offers the first comprehensive analysis of amicus influence on state supreme court decision making. Capitalizing on cross-state comparisons, this paper explores existing theories of amicus influence on court outcomes while also exploring how this influence is conditioned by institutional design across states – specifically, differing methods of judicial retention. Products liability cases offer a unique opportunity to examine the effects of third-party amicus briefs on the decision-making of state high courts because the two groups that are attributed with igniting the explosion in judicial campaign spending –- pro-business groups and plaintiffs’ lawyers groups –- often participate as amicus curiae. Using this set of cases, this paper finds that amicus brief influence is conditioned by court structure such that judges are more responsive to their ideological allies in courts where judges are free from electoral pressure. However, where courts are exposed to electoral pressures, amici influence encourages courts to render decisions that run counter to constituent ideology in favor of moneyed, corporate interests.

HT @aabibliographer

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