Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1641272
 
 

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Judicial Impartiality, Campaign Contributions, and Recusals: Results from a National Survey


James L. Gibson


Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Political Science

Gregory Caldeira


Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

July 16, 2010

5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper

Abstract:     
Legal scholars and political scientists have of late become quite concerned about how citizens form their impressions of the fairness of courts. This concern reflects the changing environments of courts, especially state courts, and what might generally be termed the politicization of the judiciary.

The purpose of this paper is therefore to assess the degree to which a key element of this politicization – the provision of campaign contributions and support to those seeking judicial office – influences citizens’ perceptions of the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary. We also investigate the ability of judicial recusal to rehabilitate a court/judge tainted by perceived conflicts of interest associated with campaign contributions from litigants. Based on an experimental design embedded in a nationally representative sample, our data confirm that contributions undermine perceptions of fairness, but so too does independent support of the candidate. Recusal does indeed restore some of the perceived fairness of the court, but not to the level it enjoys when no conflicts of interest are present. In a post-Citizens United world, these findings point to significant threats to the legitimacy of elected state courts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 51

Keywords: Judicial legitimacy, perceptions of impartiality, judicial campaigning, recusal, judicial election

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Date posted: July 17, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Gibson, James L. and Caldeira, Gregory, Judicial Impartiality, Campaign Contributions, and Recusals: Results from a National Survey (July 16, 2010). 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1641272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1641272

Contact Information

James L. Gibson (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
Gregory A. Caldeira
Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )
2140 Derby Hall 154 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1373
United States
614-292-2880 (Phone)
614-292-1146 (Fax)
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