Solicitor General Influence and Agenda Setting on the United States Supreme Court

Ryan C. Black and Ryan J. Owens

Published 2011, Political Research Quarterly 64(4): 765-778 (December).


Do Solicitors General (SGs) influence how justices vote? Years of scholarship suggests that the answer is yes but has largely failed to examine what influence means and just how much influence the SG wields. The authors examine SG influence during the Court’s agenda-setting stage. They find, first, that justices follow SG recommendations even when they are completely opposed to them and, second, that law exerts a strong independent influence. Justices are significantly less likely to follow SG recommendations that contravene important legal factors.

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