Institutions and Equilibrium in the United States Supreme Court

American Political Science Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, 2007

Posted: 2 Dec 2007

See all articles by Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson

Pepperdine University School of Law

Alexander Tahk

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Abstract

Over the last decade the scholarship on judicial politics has increasingly emphasized the strategic aspects of decision making in the United States Supreme Court. This scholarship, however, has struggled with two significant limitations the restriction to unidimensional policy spaces and the assumption of binary comparisons of alternatives. These two assumptions have the advantage of implying stable, predictable outcomes, but lack a sound theoretical foundation and assume away potentially important aspects of strategic behavior on the Court. In this article, we identify institutional features of the Court that, under certain conditions, allow us to relax these two assumptions without sacrificing stable, predictable policy outcomes. In particular, we formalize the part-by-part opinion voting used by the justices, a feature that, together with separable preferences over policy issues, implies stable policy outcomes around the issue-by-issue median of the justices.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Coalition-Proof Equilibrium, Issue-by-Issue Median, Part-by-Part Voting

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Robert and Tahk, Alexander Moss, Institutions and Equilibrium in the United States Supreme Court. American Political Science Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1034765

Robert Anderson (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

Alexander Moss Tahk

University of Wisconsin–Madison ( email )

1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
(608) 263-2297 (Phone)

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