Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Comparato, Scott

Abstract

The past several decades have witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of amicus curiae briefs filed at the U.S. Supreme Court. While scholars debate the effectiveness of amicus curiae briefs, they generally agree on the effectiveness of briefs filed by executive attorneys. A plethora of studies address the amicus curiae brief activity of the solicitor general, but relatively few examine state attorneys general. State attorneys general are the legal representatives of the states and have become increasingly successful as amici since the early 1980s. I explore state attorney general amicus curiae brief activity and argue that existing theories of amicus curiae participation by the solicitor general and interest groups, are inadequate for state attorneys general because of the unique institutional context in which state attorneys general operate. State attorneys general, I argue, must balance political, legal, and administrative factors when filing amicus curiae briefs. I also recognizes that amicus curiae briefs are not a singular event and are instead a process in which actors make several decisions across a variety of contexts. Within each context each factor takes on a different weight. I conclude state attorneys general are strategic political actors who consider political, legal, and administrative factors in their amicus curiae briefs.

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