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The solicitor general : the politics of law

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  • "In this book, Rebecca Mae Salokar studies the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States from 1959 through 1986. A frequently overlooked institution of American politics, this office is responsible for all litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the executive branch. But the solicitor general is also a well-respected advisor to the justices and a gatekeeper, controlling a large portion of the litigation that reaches the Court's docket. The author shows that today, with the increased politicization of the Justice Department, the work of the nation's lawyer is an integral component of executive policy-making. Paying particular attention to the selection of solicitors general and the political and legal environment in which they functioned, Salokar analyzes all Supreme Court cases in which the government was a participant from 1959 to 1986. She examines the work of the solicitor general in the roles of litigant or party to a case and amicus curiae or friend of the court. Her interviews with several former solicitors general and members of their staffs provide contextual examples to support the statistical analyses. Salokar's findings suggest that the solicitor general enjoys a large degree of functional independence from the Department of Justice and the executive branch but that the office does, in fact, act politically by pursuing the agenda of the executive branch in its case selection and argument formulation before the Supreme Court. This study demonstrates that the Office of the Solicitor General can and does shape policy questions for the United States. As the most frequent and successful litigant before the Supreme Court, the solicitor general plays a critical role in shaping the court's agenda. As a political actor, the solicitor general pursues the implementation of the president's policy agenda through litigation activity. While the relationship between the judicial and executive branches has been defined traditionally through the nomination of justices to the Court and through Court decisions that affect presidential power, Salokar reveals that another, more frequently used, link between the two branches exists in the Office of the Solicitor General."

  • "The solicitor general : the politics of law"