We examine the role of former clerks to Supreme Court justices on the Court’s agenda setting process. We find that when a former clerk is the attorney on either a cert petition or an amicus brief, the Court is more likely to hear a case, compared to advocacy by a non-former clerk. To help explain these patterns, we draw on the broader literature on “revolving door” politics. We argue that the most plausible mechanisms are either that former clerks are more effective advocates or that their presence in a case signals its importance to the Court. Alternatively, former clerks may select into cases that the Court is likely to grant. While we cannot definitively disentangle these competing mechanisms, the strong patterns in the data suggest that the importance of the revolving door in judicial politics extends broadly into the domain of agenda setting and is thus worthy of further investigation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Supreme Court
- amicus briefs
- revolving door