Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1008032
 
 

References (65)



 
 

Citations (19)



 


 



The Authority of Supreme Court Precedent


James H. Fowler


UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Sangick Jeon


Stanford University - Department of Political Science


Social Networks, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 16-30, January 2008

Abstract:     
We construct the complete network of 30,288 majority opinions written by the U.S. Supreme Court and the cases they cite from 1754 to 2002 in the United States Reports. Data from this network demonstrates quantitatively the evolution of the norm of stare decisis in the 19th Century and a significant deviation from this norm by the activist Warren court. We further describe a method for creating authority scores using the network data to identify the most important Court precedents. This method yields rankings that conform closely to evaluations by legal experts, and even predicts which cases they will identify as important in the future. An analysis of these scores over time allows us to test several hypotheses about the rise and fall of precedent. We show that reversed cases tend to be much more important than other decisions, and the cases that overrule them quickly become and remain even more important as the reversed decisions decline. We also show that the Court is careful to ground overruling decisions in past precedent, and the care it exercises is increasing in the importance of the decision that is overruled. Finally, authority scores corroborate qualitative assessments of which issues and cases the Court prioritizes and how these change over time.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: August 20, 2007 ; Last revised: August 19, 2008

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Jeon, Sangick, The Authority of Supreme Court Precedent. Social Networks, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 16-30, January 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1008032

Contact Information

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)
UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States
HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu
UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States
HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu
Sangick Jeon
Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )
616 Serra Street
Encina Hall West, Suite 100
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,680
Downloads: 346
Download Rank: 49,552
References:  65
Citations:  19

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.344 seconds