The main mechanism by which parties send their cases to the Supreme Court for review is by cert petitions. With around 8,000 petitions each year from which the justices choose around 60-70 to hear on oral argument, the Court needs to find ways to quickly determine the most worthy cases.
One of the ways the Court does this is through what is known as “cue theory” where the justices look for elements of a case that help wade through the cert petitions.
I discuss cue theory in detail in a past paper.
Amicus briefs filed in support of cert petitions are a central way to get the justices’ (and clerks’) attention because they show that groups outside of the parties are so interested in the Court hearing a case that they file such briefs with no guarantee that the Court will even take the case.
Of the 26 cases the Supreme Court accepted for arguments in the coming fall term, only 20 have associated cert amicus briefs (one of the 26 is on original jurisdiction so it was accepted outside of the cert pile). This number of petitions without cert amici seems high given the amount of amici support we have seen on cert in past terms.
* Some granted cases with high levels of amicus support on cert and the names of repeat amici players on cert in the cases include (docket links available via SCOTUSBlog):
- Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (20 briefs from groups including Liberty Justice and Pacific Legal)
- 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (14 briefs from groups including Americans for Prosperity, Cato, and the Institute for Justice
- Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina (11 briefs including Cato)
- Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (six briefs including from Cato and US Chamber of Commerce)
- National Pork Producers Council v. Ross (six briefs including from Cato)
- Moore v. Harper (major election case with three cert amicus briefs)
* Some petitions with high levels of amicus support:
- Fitisemanu v. United States (nine amici); Docket No. 21-1394
- Smith v. Ward (eight amici); No. 21-1405
- Kerr v. Planned Parenthood (six amici); No. 21-1431
- Lynch v. McDonough (six amici); No. 21-1453
* Petitions with Calls for Views of the Solicitor General and cert amici support:
- ERISA Industry Committee v. City of Seattle (six amici); No. 21-1019
- Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools (three amici); No. 21-887
- Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi (three amici); No. 21-757
- Midwest Air Traffic Control Service, Inc. v. Badilla (two amici); No. 21-867