Chapter 2: Court Procedures
Many appellate, unlike trial courts, have the capacity to pick and choose which cases they will hear and decide. The presence or lack of discretionary jurisdiction has been shown to greatly affect the institutional norms and decision-making of these courts, as well as the actors who appear before these benches. Here we offer two sides of this coin. First, Professors Elizabeth Lane, Jessica Schoenherr, Rachel Schutte and Ryan Black use archival data to reveal how interest groups influence the agenda of the U.S. Supreme Court—a court with nearly limitless discretion over its docket. Supporting earlier work, these scholars show that interest group efforts at the docketing stage remain extremely effective signals and significantly increase the likelihood of a case obtaining scarce space on the Court’s docket. On the other side of the coin, we have a state supreme court that has no discretion over its docket and therefore hear and decide every qualifying case. This leads to a very different mix of cases and concerns. Professor William McLauchlan provides us with a case study of the Montana Supreme Court’s workload and its high level of mundane cases in direct contrast to the picture painted of the U.S. Supreme Court docket by Pacelle and Pyle or Lane, et al.