Judicial Independence and Minority Interests

Conference on Empirical Studies and Judges, Harvard Law School, November 10, 2006

37 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2007

See all articles by Daniel Berkowitz

Daniel Berkowitz

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics

Chris W. Bonneau

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Special education litigation has grown rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s following the passage in 1975 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and judges have become more involved in determining whether or not students with disabilities are receiving a free and appropriate public education. We argue that students with disabilities are a minority interest and promoting their interests can make state judges unpopular for two reasons: first, IDEA imposes substantial costs on state and local budgets; second IDEA mainstreams children with disabilities into regular classrooms. We then provide evidence at the state and school district level that those states that either did not elect judges or eliminated judicial elections have more aggressively promoted the interests of students with disabilities. The most compelling explanation for this finding is that judges who do not stand for election are more likely to promote minority interests.

Suggested Citation

Berkowitz, Daniel and Bonneau, Chris W. and Clay, Karen B., Judicial Independence and Minority Interests. Conference on Empirical Studies and Judges, Harvard Law School, November 10, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1012710

Daniel Berkowitz (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Economics ( email )

4711 WWPH
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-7072 (Phone)
412-648-3011 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.pitt.edu/~dmberk

Chris W. Bonneau

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science ( email )

4600 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.pitt.edu/~cwb7

Karen B. Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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