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Supreme Court Newsletter

Amicus Briefs as Fundraising Literature

Judge Posner has argued that reading amicus briefs are largely a waste of time.  Most of them, he notes, are calculated not at the court but at members of the authors' respective organizations.  Look at what we've done: now, send us money!  Today I saw this in action.

We've just helped win a HUGE victory for access to justice and consumers' rights in the U.S. Supreme Court!
The Court overturned the federal appeals court decision finding preemption and held that pesticide damage claims are preempted only in very narrow circumstances (which are not applicable in this case). [X-organization] had filed an amic[us] brief urging the Court to rule as it did.
Congratulations and thanks to you, too, for making our Access to Justice Campaign possible. Your generous support helped win a big victory today! To further our battle for the right to a day in court, click here [and give us money].

Yeah, I'm really sure that David Frederick (formerly Assistant to the Solicitor General) needed your help.  I'll be sure to send a lot of money quickly, because without you, the 7-2 result would have been different.

UPDATE: Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg agree with me.*  Most amicus briefs are crap, according to O'Connor and Ginsburg.

At a panel discussion sponsored by the National Association of Women Lawyers, Ginsburg said she has her law clerks arrange the briefs into three piles: must-read briefs; those she could skim or read selected pages from; and then, the "skip" pile that she does not need to read at all. The first pile, she said pointedly, is "very thin." The largest pile, she said sheepishly, is the "skip" pile.

* That's another peeve of mine.  How can you say that someone whom you've never met (or argued a certain point to) agrees with you?  You can't, so knock it off, 'cause it's dopey.