Interest Groups & Advocacy

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 579–599 | Cite as

Counterbalancing the disadvantages of the “Have Nots”: an examination of the impact of amicus participation in state supreme court cases

  • Bianca EasterlyEmail author
Original Article


Party capability theory posits that litigation success is predicated on litigants’ experience as parties to lawsuits as well as their access to resources. The stakes are particularly high for disadvantaged litigants in asymmetric power relationships, such as those between government (“The Haves”) and criminal defendants (“The Have Nots”). Scholars have found that interest group participation via amicus curiae—or “friend of the court”—briefs can reduce litigant power disparities in federal appellate cases, but it remains unclear whether the same holds in criminal matters before courts of last resort. As a starting point to understanding interest group behavior in state supreme court criminal cases, this study examines party capability theory and the extent to which, if any, amicus participation affects decision making that favors the government. Findings underscore the importance of interest group participation that supports disadvantaged litigants and the impact crime severity has on outcomes in criminal state supreme court cases.


State supreme courts Amicus curiae Interest groups Judicial decision making Status differential Repeat Players 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceLamar UniversityBeaumontUSA

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