According to popular models of judicial decision-making, U.S. Supreme Court justices are driven by their own preferences when creating legal policy, and the institution remains largely independent from outside influences in its decision-making process. However, when taking into account fundamental socio-psychological factors, it becomes clear the popular models of judicial decision-making are too narrow in their consideration of influence on the Court. Like all human beings, justices seek approval from their peers, which suggests audiences that share the justices’ elite status would influence the Court’s decision-making as a source of reputational legitimacy.
Lawrence Baum presents these postulations in Judges and Their Audiences (2006). This research builds upon Baum’s work and engages in an empirical analysis to determine whether elite groups possess significant influence over Supreme Court decision-making as salient audiences of the Court. This research looks at the American Bar Association (ABA), a highly respected professional organization, and its participation in Supreme Court cases through the submission of amicus curiae briefs. Through an analysis of justices’ citations of the ABA in Supreme Court opinions, this research aims to determine whether the American Bar Association possesses significant influence over Supreme Court decision-making as an elite audience of the Court.