Oral Argument and Amicus Curiae

Synopsis

Members of the Supreme Court are supposed to base decisions on the law, but often their choices are better explained by political ideology and party loyalty. Roberts sheds light on this problem by looking at a part of the Court's life that has never been systematically studied. Most cases feature extra briefs written by third parties known as amici curiae. He examines the rare occasions on which the Court allows these extra groups to participate not just by filing briefs but by appearing before the Court during oral arguments. By tracing how these groups influence the justices' behavior, Roberts presents a strong case that the Court is driven by more than politics.