Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1687911
 
 

Footnotes (177)



 


 



Beyond Principal-Agent Theories: Law and the Judicial Hierarchy


Pauline T. Kim


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

October 5, 2010

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 105, No. 2, 2011
Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-10-02

Abstract:     
This Essay critically examines the commonplace use by judicial politics scholars of principal-agent models to describe the federal judicial hierarchy. It argues that agency models are useful in highlighting certain aspects of the interaction between upper and lower courts - specifically, the existence of value conflicts and informational asymmetries - but that in other ways traditional principal-agent models fit poorly the relationship between the lower federal courts and the Supreme Court. As a consequence, these models tend to obscure important normative questions about the relationship between lower and upper courts, as well as to distort the role that law plays in judicial decision-making. This Essay proposes that instead of viewing the law as merely a signal or command to lower courts, the law should be understood as the joint product of the Supreme Court and lower courts. Producing a coherent body of law requires cooperation and coordination between the various levels of the judicial hierarchy at the same time that the law is the ground on which value conflicts between judges are played out. This revised understanding of the relationship between Supreme Court and lower federal courts as involving elements of both cooperation and conflict are likely to be more productive than traditional principal-agent models.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: judicial decision-making, judicial hierarchy, federal courts, judicial politics

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: October 6, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Kim, Pauline T., Beyond Principal-Agent Theories: Law and the Judicial Hierarchy (October 5, 2010). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 105, No. 2, 2011; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-10-02. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1687911

Contact Information

Pauline T. Kim (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-8570 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 538
Downloads: 102
Download Rank: 156,201
Footnotes:  177

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.641 seconds