Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type


First Advisor



My study examines why some lawsuits against the federal government involve multiple states while others involve single states. I compare two multi-state lawsuits against two single-state lawsuits. For each case, I examine public opinion, the state attorneys general (SAGs) who represent the states in the lawsuits, and the SAGs’ political ambition. The results indicate that on the one hand, in multi-state court cases, a majority of the national public opposes the federal law. On the other hand, in single-state lawsuits, a majority of the national public supports the federal law. In multi-state lawsuits, states join the litigation only if the members of the SAGs’ political party oppose the federal law. SAGs join multi-state lawsuits to obtain political capital because of their ambition to run for reelection or for another political office. My thesis suggests that courts are being used for a partisan political game and states are suing because of public opinion, not because the federal government is violating the law.