Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

McClurg, Scott

Abstract

Amicus briefs provide information to Supreme Court justices from an outside party and can be influential for this reason. A state, or states, with an interest in a case may file an amicus brief for one party or another appearing in front of the Court. Research has shown that the more states who join on a brief, the more impact it may have with the Justices. If one or a few states has an interest in a case and wants their brief to be considered how do they get other states to join on a brief? If a state has no interest in a case, why would or wouldn't it join with a state who did have an interest? In this paper, I look at amicus briefs filed in the United States Supreme Court by states either when a state is a party or when they took interest in the case by filing a brief. When considering these cases (131 of them) the question I seek to answer is does partisanship determine who joins on an amicus brief? In order to answer this question, I focus on social network analysis of the cases and states who file for each case. This method allows connections to be made between states as well as identifying the central or influential actors within the network. I find that states who file the most briefs are not necessarily the most influential and if partisanship plays a role, it does so at the individual level and not at the whole network level.

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