Schooling the Supreme Court
Christine Kexel Chabot
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
February 26, 2014
Denver University Law Review, Forthcoming
Although prominent legal scholars have called for Justices with more diverse professional backgrounds, it is unclear how this type of diversity would affect the Supreme Court. Earlier empirical studies provide only limited accounts of the relationship between professional training and how Justices vote. This paper offers the first empirical analysis of a unique period when Justices with formal legal education sat with Justices who entered the profession by reading the law alone.
The paper identifies significant differences created by a more educationally diverse body of decision-makers. Justices who shared the benefit of formal legal education (1) voted together more often and (2) were more politically independent than other Justices without this background. These findings substantially qualify earlier views on the desirability of Justices without formal legal education. Educational diversity is consistent with calls for a more politically responsive Court, but it does not advance alternative conceptions of the Court as an optimally diverse group of decision-makers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: Supreme Court appointments, diversity, value of legal education, empirical, judicial politics
Date posted: March 23, 2013 ; Last revised: June 2, 2014
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