Course: Procedural Law
Amicus curiae, also known as an “amicus brief” or “friend of the court,” refers to a person or organization that is not a party to a legal case but has an interest in the matter being litigated and seeks to provide information or arguments to the court.
The concept of amicus curiae has a long history in the common law legal system and has been recognized in various legal systems around the world. In the United States, the right of amici curiae to participate in cases before the Supreme Court is expressly provided for in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which permit any person or organization to file a brief in support of a particular legal position, even if they are not a party to the case.
The role of an amicus curiae can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the interests of the person or organization seeking to participate. In some cases, amici curiae may simply provide factual information or background on the legal issues at stake, while in other cases, they may argue a particular legal position or present additional evidence or legal authority in support of one side or the other.
One of the key advantages of amicus briefs is that they can provide a broader perspective on the legal issues at stake in a case. This is particularly true in cases involving complex legal or policy issues, where the parties to the case may have a narrow focus on their particular interests or legal arguments. By presenting additional information and arguments to the court, amici curiae can help to ensure that the court considers the full range of legal and policy implications of its decision.
Another important benefit of amicus briefs is that they can help to ensure that the court has access to accurate and reliable information. This is particularly important in cases involving scientific or technical issues, where the court may not have the expertise or resources to fully evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by the parties to the case. By presenting additional information and perspectives, amici curiae can help to ensure that the court makes an informed and well-reasoned decision.
However, there are also potential drawbacks to the use of amicus briefs. One concern is that they can be used as a tool to advance particular political or policy agendas rather than to provide a neutral and objective perspective on the legal issues at stake. In some cases, amici curiae may be motivated more by a desire to influence the outcome of a case than by a genuine interest in ensuring that the court has access to all relevant information and arguments.
[ Glossary ]
Last Modified: 05/03/2023