Gender and U. S. Supreme Court Oral Argument on the Roberts Court: An Empirical Examination
James Cleith Phillips
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Students
Brigham Young University
June 13, 2011
Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 40, 2009
The nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the U. S. Supreme Court rekindled the debate surrounding gender and judicial behavior and decision making. While numerous studies have looked at the potential influence of a judge’s gender on voting patterns, there has been no scholarship to date investigating how the interaction of a Justice’s gender and an attorney’s gender, after controlling for other factors, influences judicial behavior during oral argument. This study empirically explores gender and oral argument by content analyzing over 13,000 sentences from 57 oral arguments during 2004-2009, measuring Justices’ levels of information-seeking and word counts. Statistical analysis of the individual Justices showed that having the same gender as the arguing attorney did influence judicial behavior for some of the Court. Furthermore, ideology also interacted with gender matching in a fairly consistent partisan divide.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: oral argument, gender, Supreme Court
Date posted: December 29, 2009 ; Last revised: June 22, 2011
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