Supreme Court Auditing of the US Courts of Appeals: An Organizational Perspective

Posted: 9 Jul 2008

See all articles by Stefanie A. Lindquist

Stefanie A. Lindquist

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law

Susan Haire

University of Georgia

Donald R. Songer

University of South Carolina

Date Written: October 2007

Abstract

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

Lindquist, Stefanie A. and Haire, Susan and Songer, Donald R., Supreme Court Auditing of the US Courts of Appeals: An Organizational Perspective (October 2007). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 17, Issue 4, pp. 607-624, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1157236 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jopart/mul022

Stefanie A. Lindquist (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-1319 (Phone)

Susan Haire

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

Donald R. Songer

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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