Using Amicus Curiae Briefs to Influence Judicial Decisions

I sat down with Brian Landsberg – Professor of Law at McGeorge School of Law – recently to talk about the work of an organization that he is a member of. That organization is the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights, of which, Professor Landsberg is a member of the Board of Trustees and the Chair of the Amicus Section. We talked about the history of the 50+ year old organization and how their work has evolved over that time.

The Lawyers’ Committee was founded by leaders of the American Bar Association in 1963 after meeting with President Kennedy, who was concerned that there were now lawyers representing civil rights demonstrators in the Deep South. At the urging of the President, those leaders formed the Lawyers’ Committee to, basically, provide pro bono representation for African Americans in South during that time.

Members of the American Bar Association meeting with President John F. Kennedy

The work of the Lawyers’ Committee has since evolved to cover voter protection activities, equal education, fair employment, fair housing, and racial justice in the criminal justice system. The Amicus Committee, which Prof. Landsberg chairs, advances the Lawyers’ Committee’s interests through the filing of Amicus briefs with the United States Supreme Court. The cases that they file on aren’t necessarily all race discrimination cases, but include sex discrimination and religious discrimination as well.