The Solicitor General and Supreme Court Justices

Please read the following “article”: Explaining Executive Success in the U. S. Supreme Court; Kevin T. McGuire, Political Research Quarterly; Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 505-526; and answer the following question (all the way at the bottom):
The solicitor general is widely believed to occupy a special status among the parties appearing in the U.S. Supreme Court. A broad array of theoretical advantages are thought to contribute to the federal government’s influence, but scholars have no direct evidence of their impact. More importantly, virtually all existing research has failed to measure directly the influence of those advantages across other parties, as well. Estimating a series of probit models of executive success in the Court under both Democratic and Republican administrations, I test the impact of one such advantage, litigation experience, measured for all parties across all cases. The results suggest that, notwithstanding the conventional wisdom, there is nothing distinctive about the solicitor general’s influence. Thus, existing explanations regarding the solicitor general’s institutional prestige appear to overstate the importance of the executive’s role in the Court. The Solicitor General is widely believed to occupy a special status among the parties. The Solicitor General may file amicus curiae briefs in cases to which the federal government is not a party, if there are materials or arguments that the government wishes to bring to the Court’s attention. Although the government may file such a brief suggesting that the Court grant or deny review in a case, the Solicitor General does not generally file amicus briefs at the petition stage unless invited to do so by the Court. Once the Court has decided to grant review in a case, however, the Solicitor General frequently files amicus briefs on the merits in cases involving issues of public importance.

Question: Basing your answer off the reading, do you feel that the Solicitor General may influence the Supreme Court justices’ behavior, and is this influence limited?

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