Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In Unusual Term, Big Year for Amicus Curiae at the Supreme Court

The NLJ presents its annual report on SCOTUS amicus briefs here, examining the 863 amicus briefs filed in more than 90% of the merits cases. The average number of amicus briefs per argued case was 13. Of course this statistic is skewed by cases like Fisher (85 amicus briefs) and Whole Woman's Health (82 amicus briefs). "To put these totals in historical perspective, Brown v. Board of Education garnered only six amicus briefs, and Roe v. Wade had only 23."  "20 percent of all amicus briefs submitted this term were filed in cases decided without signed opinions."
Image result for i want to help
The previous five terms have routinely set records for the largest number of briefs in a single (or consolidated) case. In 2011-12, amici filed 136 briefs in the consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act (Sebelius), breaking the previous record of 107 briefs in the 2003 affirmative action cases (Gratz and Grutter). In 2012-13, amici filed 156 briefs in the marriage-equality cases (Windsor and Perry). In 2013-14, there was a dip with 82 amicus briefs in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate (Hobby Lobby). The 2014-15 term was back in the triple digits with 147 amicus briefs in the latest round of consolidated marriage-equality cases (Obergefell).