The Supreme Court, the solicitor general, and the separation of powers

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24 Scopus citations


Supreme Court justices attempt to rule as closely as possible to their policy preferences, but their decisions are not unconstrained. Rather, justices pay attention to the preferences of other actors-including those external to the Court. Whereas most scholars focus on the relationship between the Court and Congress, this article focuses on the relationship between the Court and the executive. Specifically, it argues that justices seek information about how the administration wants them to act because, like Congress, it can sanction the Court for making decisions that diverge from administration policies. Certainly this information can be gathered in a number of ways, but this article argues that when not readily available, justices can obtain it by inviting the solicitor general to appear before the Court as amicus curiae. The findings provide the first systematic evidence that justices actively seek information about the preferences of other actors during their decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-451
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Amicus curiae
  • Executive/judiciary relations
  • Separation of powers
  • Solicitor general
  • Supreme Court

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