First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy

First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy

First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy

First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy

Synopsis

In the last several decades, there has been an explosion in the number of amici curiae, or "friend of the Court," briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Amici are not formal parties to a lawsuit, but file to help inform the Justices about the wider repercussions of the case before them. Public law scholars have long discussed whether these briefs have an impact on the Justices. This book is the first study that seeks to assess the extent of amici influence.

Excerpt

“Choose a research project that interests you, ” I counsel my undergraduates, “something that makes you angry, intrigues you, or simply makes you want to know more.” My interest in law and fascination with how judges decide cases began when I was an undergraduate myself, and was piqued by my graduate and law study at the University at Buffalo. While in the J.D./Ph.D. program at Buffalo, I was very interested in understanding how social movements and pressure politics affected judicial lawmaking. Many of our law professors urged us to reject the conception of law as insulated from the larger society and to think instead about law as part of the social and political landscape.

The seeds of First Among Friends were planted when I began to think seriously about what role groups had in the decision-making process. I must admit that I was at first thrilled by the possibility that groups, particularly those seeking to protect individual rights and liberties, might be able to influence this process. I was fairly idealistic, and hoped that well-informed and well-meaning judges might be able to craft policy that took into account the needs of those individuals and groups that were poorly represented in the more “democratic” legislative and executive branches. Over time, I became skeptical about interest group lobbying, particularly in the courts, and began to worry that some groups might be able to “capture” the courts as they had many agencies and legislative bodies.

First Among Friends is the culmination of nearly a decade of my work on interest group lobbying and the U.S. Supreme Court. It proceeds from the assumption that groups try to influence policy by employing all available avenues and that they lobby courts as they do the other branches of government. I have always been interested in the right to privacy, and as this project began to take shape, I knew that I wanted

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