An empirical analysis of supreme court certiorari petition procedures: The call for response and the call for the views of the solicitor general

Abstract

The Supreme Court frequently uses two tools to gather information about which cases to hear following a petition for writ of certiorari: the call for response and the call for the views of the Solicitor General. To date, there has been no empirical analysis of how the Supreme Court deploys these tools and little qualitative study. This Article fills in basic gaps in the literature by providing concrete answers to common questions regarding these two tools and offers detailed analysis of how and why states, private parties, and the United States (through the Solicitor General) respond to petitions. In addition, the Article provides much-needed data for litigators and litigants to be able to estimate the probability of their case being heard by the Court, and provides insight on how to react when the Court calls for a response or calls for the views of the Solicitor General. To reach these conclusions, the Article relies on detailed, quantitative analysis of a novel, 30,000-petition dataset, as well as interviews with top Supreme Court litigators, former Supreme Court clerks, and former staff of the Clerk’s office.

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