United States Supreme Court Decision-Making When the United States is a Party

By Joseph Ignagni and Rebecca Deen.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 19, 2015 $US5.00

This research analyzes the extent to which the U.S. Supreme Court votes to support the position of the United States in cases where the government is a party to the litigation. This study considers the relationship between the Solicitor General’s Office and the U.S. Supreme Court. The Solicitor General has the unique position of being the representative of the Executive Branch and the U.S. government before the Supreme Court. While a great deal of research has looked at the Solicitor General’s success as a “friend of the court,” far less has considered this relationship when the U.S. is a direct party in the litigation. This work investigates the success rate of the Solicitor General’s Office in these cases. We find that there is considerable variation in the U.S. government’s success rate before the Court depending on the issue, Supreme Court leadership, the ideological direction of the Court, and whether the U.S. approached the Court as a petitioner or respondent. We conduct our analysis on the Court’s decisions from 1953-2009. This study adds to our understanding of checks and balances, separation of powers, and inter-institutional relationships between the branches of the federal government of the United States.

Keywords: United States Supreme Court, Solicitor General, Checks and Balances, President

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.21-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 19, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 380.117KB)).

Dr. Joseph Ignagni

Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA

Dr. Rebecca Deen

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Tx, USA