A Built-In Advantage: The Office of the Solicitor General and the Supreme Court

Ryan C. Black and Ryan J. Owens

Published 2013, Political Research Quarterly 66(2): 451-463 (June).


The Office of the Solicitor General wins the vast majority of Supreme Court cases in which it participates. Does it enjoy a built-in advantage, or does it win because it employs experienced litigators, enjoys resource advantages, or carries the executive's sword? To answer these questions, we employ cutting edge matching methods. After matching OSG lawyers with nearly identical non-OSG lawyers in nearly identical cases we find that OSG attorneys still are more likely to win their cases. We discuss possible reasons for this built-in advantage along with some practical implications of our findings.

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