Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1012679
 
 

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Agenda Control, the Median Justice, and the Majority Opinion on the U.S. Supreme Court


Chris W. Bonneau


University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science

Thomas H. Hammond


Michigan State University - Department of Political Science

Forrest Maltzman


George Washington University

Paul J. Wahlbeck


George Washington University


American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, pp. 891-906, October 2007

Abstract:     
Some scholars argue that the author of the majority opinion exercises the most influence over the Court's opinion-writing process, and so can determine what becomes Court policy, at least within the limits of what some Court majority finds acceptable. Other students of the Court have suggested that the Court's median justice effectively dictates the content of the majority opinion: whatever policy the median justice most wants, she can get. We test these competing models with data on Supreme Court decision-making during the Burger Court (1969-1986). While we find substantial evidence for both models, the agenda control model gains greater support. This suggests that opinions on the Court on each case are driven, in general, by the interaction of three key variables: the policy preferences of the majority opinion author, the policy preferences of the median justice, and the location of the legal status quo.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: U.S. Supreme Court, Agenda Control

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Date posted: September 13, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Bonneau, Chris W. and Hammond , Thomas H. and Maltzman, Forrest and Wahlbeck, Paul J., Agenda Control, the Median Justice, and the Majority Opinion on the U.S. Supreme Court. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, pp. 891-906, October 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1012679

Contact Information

Chris W. Bonneau (Contact Author)
University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science ( email )
4600 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.pitt.edu/~cwb7
Thomas H. Hammond
Michigan State University - Department of Political Science ( email )
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-353-3282 (Phone)
Forrest Maltzman
George Washington University ( email )
Washington, DC 20052
United States
2029945821 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://home.gwu.edu/~forrest
Paul J. Wahlbeck
George Washington University ( email )
Department of Political Science
2115 G Street, N.W. Ste 440
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-4872 (Phone)
202-994-7743 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://home.gwu.edu/~wahlbeck
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