The Supreme Court annually grants approximately 5% of the petitions to hear cases it receives. It denies petitions from the federal government, from large corporations, and from high-proﬁle attorneys. The decisions of which petitions for writ of certiorari the Court grants sets the Court’s agenda each term and deﬁnes the issues which the Court will engage. With such a low likelihood that the Court hears any particular case, what makes a petition more or less likely to be granted? The focus of much of the existing scholarship on certiorari deals with the theoretical underpinnings of these judicial decisions. In this paper we set out to add to the empirical study of certiorari by examining an expansive, original dataset of the 93,000 petitions for certiorari between the 2001 and the start of the 2015 Supreme Court Terms. This allows us to investigate decisions made during and directly preceding the Roberts Court. The empirical examination focuses on several fact ors th at are thought to aﬀect certiorari decisions, mainly focusing on the individuals and entities involved in the certiorari petitions. These include the lower court that most recently heard the case, the parties, the attorneys, law ﬁrms, and the participation of amicus curiae. We look at success from both sides of the litigation:both in respect to petitioners and respondents. The ﬁndings in this paper are designed to add to our understanding of the extent that these individuals and entities factor into the likelihood of certiorari grants and denials. They are also designed to locate the speciﬁc individuals and entities that made the largest impact on certiorari decisions for the 2001 through 2015 Supreme Court Terms.
Courts | Judges | Jurisprudence | Law | Legal Profession | Supreme Court of the United States
Date of this Version
Adam Feldman and Alexander Kappner, "Finding Certainty in Cert: An Empirical Analysis of the Factors Involved in Supreme Court Certiorari Decisions From 2001-2015" (February 2016). University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series. Working Paper 197.