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Academic Round-up

For those that use empirical data to study the Supreme Court, the new Supreme Court Database is now live at  The biggest advantage to the new version of the Database is that it is now more user-friendly and accessible to those who study the Court, but may not have empirical background or training.   I have not made use of the new online version of the Database yet, but I am told that it is quite remarkable.  Right now, the Database has case and justice-centered data for the period from 1953-2008, but Andrew Martin (one of the lead investigators on the project) tells me that the investigators have already begun to code data from the Court’s first decision in 1792 and the goal is to have the backdating completed within the next four to five years.   Unlike prior versions, the new Database also has a tutorial feature, see here, permitting those who have never used it to experiment with the data.  From all accounts, this will be an excellent resource for media, scholars, and the general public in the years to come.  For earlier coverage of the database, see here.

Thank you to Lyle Denniston for pointing me to a new article by Stefanie Lepore entitled, “The Development of the Supreme Court Practice of Calling for the Views of the Solicitor General,” see here.  In this article, the author traces the history of the Solicitor General’s involvement in the certiorari process, which really began in the late 1950s and early 1960s due in part to the personal relationships between two SGs (Sobeloff and Rankin) and the Justices serving on the Court during the period.  Most of our readers are undoubtedly familiar with the CVSG process, but this is the first article that I have read that actually traces the history of the device to its origins.   I have previously highlighted a number of empirical articles that show the importance of the Solicitor General in persuading the Court to grant cases involving the United States, in making recommendations on other certiorari petitions pending before the Court, and even in persuading the Court to adopt a particular position at the merits stage, but this piece really provides some important historical context for those other articles.