Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Political Science


A substantial literature on lower federal courts and state courts suggests that the "haves" usually come out ahead in litigation because they possess superior resources for it and they reap advantages from their repeat player status. We investigate the success of 10 categories of litigants before the Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts to determine whether the resources or experience of litigants has effects on Supreme Court outcomes paralleling those found in the courts below. While different categories of litigants are found to have very different rates of success, those differences do not consistently favor litigants with greater resources. A time series analysis of the success of different categories of litigants over the 36 years studied suggests that the changing ideological complexion of the Court has a greater impact on the success of litigants than differences among litigants in resources and experience.