Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges
93 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016 Last revised: 23 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 20, 2019
Why do presidential elections affect judges without electoral incentives? In randomly composed 3- judge panels, U.S. Circuit judges’ dissents increase for ten months preceding elections and peak at the nominating conventions. Reversals of lower courts and political partisanship in precedents by unified panels double. Exploiting monthly campaign ads in judges’ states of residence, dissent elevation is higher in electorally pivotal states, but declines precipitously in non-pivotal states after the primary season. Topic of dissents, placebo dates from earlier case milestones, replication in concurrences (disagreement about reasoning), and judge heterogeneity support a transient priming mechanism. Elections explain 23% of all dissents.
Keywords: Judicial Decision-Making, Group Decision-Making, Moral Decision-Making, Salience
JEL Classification: D7, K0, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation