Do law clerks influence U.S. Supreme Court Justices’ decisions in the Court’s agenda-setting stage? For those Justices responding to their own law clerks’ cert recommendations, we expect a high degree of agreement between Justice and clerk. For non-employing Justices, however, we anticipate that the likelihood of agreement between clerk and Justice will vary greatly based on the interplay among the ideological compatibility between a Justice and the clerk, the underlying certworthiness of the petition for review, and the clerk’s final recommendation. Relying on a newly collected dataset of petitions making the Court’s discuss list over the 1986 through 1993 Terms, we find that Justices are more likely to follow a pool memo’s recommendation when it is consistent with the underlying cues present in the pool memo. In addition, our results indicate that Justices are significantly more likely to follow grant recommendations when the recommendation is provided by a clerk from an ideologically proximate chambers as opposed to one that is distant. These findings provide important information on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Court’s practice of pooling certiorari petitions among chambers and also suggest that political advisors, at the Supreme Court and in other institutions, are equipped to influence political elite decision making.
Ryan C. Black, Christina L. Boyd, and Amanda C. Bryan,
Revisiting the Influence of Law Clerks on the U.S. Supreme Court's Agenda-Setting Process,
98 Marq. L. Rev. 75
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol98/iss1/7