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Judging Indian Law: What Factors Influence Individual Justice’s Votes on Indian Law in the Modern Era

Grant Christensen

Charlotte Law

August 1, 2011

University of Toledo Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract: Scholars of the Supreme Court often use a justice’s political ideology to predict their ultimate vote on Constitutional questions. While this approach may serve scholars well when questions involve hot button civil liberties issues that are the focus of confirmation hearings, ideology is in actuality a poor predictor of judicial behavior in other areas of law. This paper looks at one of the more complex – Federal Indian Law – and uses both descriptive statistics and more advanced quantitative analysis to go beyond the pure ideology and explain why individual Justices vote the way they do. Using the Fisher Exact Test, and a comprehensive new database of Indian Law decisions, I demonstrate that contrary to common expectations, factors like the Solicitor General’s participation are not significant in swaying an individual Justice’s vote, while factors like being the appellant party and certified questions of conflicting jurisdiction do statistically significantly alter an individual Justice’s vote on the merits. These factors provide better insight into the ultimate outcome – at a Justice level – of Indian law decisions before the Court, and can be used by parties to predict future Supreme Court outcomes on Indian law questions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 55

Keywords: Indian Law, Behavior, Supreme Court, Native American, fisher exact test, solicitor general, justice ideology, predict, model, social science, quantitative statistic

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Date posted: August 2, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Christensen, Grant, Judging Indian Law: What Factors Influence Individual Justice’s Votes on Indian Law in the Modern Era (August 1, 2011). University of Toledo Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1903542

Contact Information

Grant Christensen (Contact Author)
Charlotte Law ( email )
201 South College Street
Suite 400
Charlotte, NC 28244
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.charlottelaw.edu/about/grant-christensen
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