Strategic Bargaining on the United States Courts of Appeals
Ryan J. Owens
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science
Ryan C. Black
Michigan State University - Department of Political Science
September 5, 2009
APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper
We employ never before used archival data to provide the rst, systematic examination of the conditions under which federal circuit court judges craft legal opinions. We undertake this analysis in the context of judges' responses to opinion drafts. We examine every private record maintained by former D.C. Circuit Judge J. Skelly Wright (1962-1988), which yields nearly five thousand observations across roughly 2500 cases. Our results provide strong support for ideological, contextual, and institutional components to the development of law and the distribution of policy benefits. Judges are more likely to try to alter the majority opinion the more ideologically distant they are from the opinion writer. At the same time, contextual factors and institutional dynamics influence the responses judges provide. Law evolves, then, as a result of judges seeking their personal policy goals, tempered by the immediate constraints of their office.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: strategic decision making, bargaining, circuit courts
Date posted: August 13, 2009 ; Last revised: March 10, 2010
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