Supreme Court Litigants and Strategic Framing

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Abstract:

Although litigants invest a huge amount of resources in crafting legal briefs for submission to the Supreme Court, few studies examine whether and how briefs influence Court decisions. This article asks whether legal participants are strategic when deciding how to frame a case brief and whether such frames influence the likelihood of receiving a favorable outcome. To explore these questions, a theory of strategic framing is developed and litigants' basic framing strategies are hypothesized based on Riker's theory of rhetoric and heresthetic as well as the strategic approach to judicial politics. Using 110 salient cases from the 1979–89 terms, I propose and develop a measure of a typology of issue frames and provide empirical evidence that supports a strategic account of how parties frame cases.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00450.x

Affiliations: University of Kentucky

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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