Writ of Certiorari Definition in Government

Explore the definition and significance of writ of certiorari in government. Learn about its purpose, examples, case studies, and statistics in the legal system.


When it comes to understanding the legal system, the term ‘writ of certiorari’ often comes up. In the realm of government, this concept holds significant importance. In this article, we will delve into the definition of writ of certiorari in government, its purpose, examples, case studies, and statistics.


A writ of certiorari is a legal order issued by a higher court to review a decision of a lower court. It is a Latin term meaning ‘to be more certain,’ indicating the superior court’s desire to review and possibly overturn the lower court’s decision.


The main purpose of a writ of certiorari is to ensure uniformity and consistency in the interpretation and application of the law. By allowing higher courts to review lower court decisions, it helps in resolving legal disputes, correcting errors, and upholding the rule of law.


One famous example of the writ of certiorari in government is the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. In this case, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the decision of the lower court, eventually leading to the desegregation of schools in the United States.

Case Studies

  • In 2015, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
  • In 2000, the Bush v. Gore case involved the Supreme Court granting certiorari to resolve the disputed presidential election results in Florida.


According to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Supreme Court receives around 7,000-8,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari each term. However, it only grants certiorari in about 100-150 cases annually.


In conclusion, the writ of certiorari plays a crucial role in the government’s legal system by allowing higher courts to review lower court decisions. It ensures fairness, consistency, and the proper application of the law. Understanding this concept is essential for anyone interested in the workings of the judicial system.

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