Locating U.S. Solicitors General in the Supreme Court's Policy Space

Hansford TG, Depaoli S, Canelo KS. Locating U.S. Solicitors General in the Supreme Court’s Policy Space. Presidential Studies Quarterly. 2019;49(4):855–869.


The U.S. Solicitor General (SG) is the most direct link between the executive branch and the Supreme Court. Spatial models of the SG’s involvement at the Court necessitate locating the SG in the same policy space as the justices. We treat the SG’s positions advocated in amicus curiae briefs as equivalent to votes in these cases and employ an item response model that yields facially valid estimates of the locations of the SGs and justices serving during the Eisenhower through Obama administrations. We find that the ideological orientation of the appointing president has a strong effect on the location of the SGs. There is mixed evidence of SGs orienting themselves toward the median justice on the Court, implying that SGs might also serve a second principal in some cases.

Part of the Amici Space Project.

Last updated on 09/01/2022