PLF: "All-star" impact in the Supreme Court

April 04, 2013 | By TIMOTHY SANDEFUR

SCOTUSBlog has announced the results of its survey of the impact of friend-of-the-court briefs by organizations across the country. We’re very proud to learn that Pacific Legal Foundation ranks third in the nation, and first among constitutionally-oriented organizations in terms of its influence at the “cert. stage.”

Here’s what that means: unlike the lower appellate courts, the Supreme Court isn’t required to hear a case. Instead, you have to ask it to do so. When you ask the Court to take a case—called petitioning for a writ of certiorari, or “cert.”—other folks can file these friend-of-the-court briefs recommending that the Court agree to hear a matter. We file these briefs in support of cert. when we think a case is particularly important, and 20 percent of the time the Court agrees and takes the case. That’s a pretty good average, considering that the Supreme Court only takes about one percent of all the cases they’re ask to hear annually.

People sometimes question the value of these friend-of-the-court briefs, and sometimes they aren’t very helpful. But we work hard to ensure that we file hard-hitting, well-researched, legally solid briefs that advance principled arguments for individual rights, racial equality, and limited government. We’re honored to see that our efforts are making a real impact and are helping to shape constitutional law nationwide.