Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Sara C. Benesh

Committee Members

Erin B. Kaheny, Kathleen Dolan, David A. Armstrong, Artemus Ward


Many studies aim to capture the influence of the Supreme Court over political actors who provide information to the justices. However, it seems reasonable to suggest that the reciprocal effect might also occur. Certain groups and individuals, hence political actors, might influence the Court through information mechanisms. With increasing requests for certiorari and thousands of cases being petitioned to the Court, the justices are faced with the daunting task of trying to decide which cases merit review. Reviewing 80-100 cases a year, the justices must rely upon political actors to help ease their burden of decision making. Employing the Blackmun Papers, this paper seeks to analyze whether the recommendation made by the justices' law clerks in the pool memoranda influence the Court's decision to grant certiorari. Finding clerk recommendation influences decision making, I further analyze whether the content of the memos--what the law clerks write in them--significantly influences the justices' decision to grant cert. The results indicate that certain groups and individuals (i.e., lower court judges, attorneys, and the parties of a case), who provide information in the pool memoranda, significantly increase the likelihood a case will be granted certiorari, suggesting the justices consider information provisions of political actors when making decisions on cert.