Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions


What are amicus briefs?

Amicus, or friend of the court, briefs are briefs filed by interested non-parties who wish to emphasize particular aspects of a case and stress its importance to the Court. Amicus briefs are a regular staple of U.S. Supreme Court practice, particularly in important, high-profile decisions. For example, approximately ninety amicus briefs were filed before the Court in the affirmative action in education cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger.

Sometimes, the justices seem to consider certain amicus briefs as very significant and persuasive. For example, Chief Justice William Rehnquist cited the amicus brief of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists written by attorney Rosalyn Mazer in his unanimous opinion for the Court in the celebrated First Amendment decision in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988).


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