Additional Preliminary Results on Certiorari Study: The Federal Government’s Role

As noted before in my certiorari study, tribal interests do very poorly in the certiorari stage of Supreme Court litigation, especially compared to the state interests and private parties that oppose them. But what about the United States, which plays both sides depending on the case? Here are some preliminary stats:

United States as petitioner:

  • 23 petitions, 14 grants, 7 denials
  • 2 petitions pending in 2010 Term
  • 67 percent grant rate (so far)

United States as petitioner, listed whether opposing or supporting tribal interests:

  • 15 petitions opposing tribal interests, 10 grants (67 percent)
  • 6 petitions supporting tribal interests, 4 grants (67 percent)
  • 2 pending petitions opposing tribal interests

So whether the government petitions for or against tribal interests, according to these limited numbers, their success rate is irrelevant — it’s all 67 percent. Of course, 71 percent of the cert petitions oppose tribal interests.