Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges

93 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016 Last revised: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Date Written: January 20, 2019

Abstract

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

Chen, Daniel L., Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges (January 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816245 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2816245

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

21 allée de Brienne
31015 Toulouse cedex 6 France
Toulouse, 31015
France

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