Supreme Court Auditing of the US Courts of Appeals: An Organizational Perspective
Posted: 9 Jul 2008
Date Written: October 2007
Using an aggregate-level model of Supreme Court-circuit court interactions, this study assesses the extent to which the Court's auditing process of circuit court outputs is shaped by organizational dynamics such as structural capacity, institutionalization, and demographic characteristics. Principals in organizational hierarchies must audit the behavior of their agents to ensure that the agents are faithfully complying with the principals' preferences. In the case of the Supreme Court, such auditing activities must take place in the face of very limited institutional capacity on the Court's part. We propose that the Court considers certain broad organizational and institutional characteristics at the circuit level when performing this task. In particular, we find that the Court strategically allocates its limited institutional resources to audit decisions to respond to its recent interactions with individual circuits in past terms, the circuits' internal decision-making dynamics (including dissent and reversal rates), and goal conflict between the circuit and the Supreme Court.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation