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Strategic Citations to Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court

37 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2009 Last revised: 9 Aug 2014

Yonatan Lupu

George Washington University - Department of Political Science

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Date Written: November 15, 2012

Abstract

The Common Law evolves not only through the outcomes of cases, but also through the reasoning and citations to precedent employed in judicial opinions. We focus on citations to precedent by the U.S. Supreme Court. We demonstrate how strategic interaction between justices during the Court's bargaining process affects citations to precedent in the Court's opinion. We find that the majority opinion writer relies more heavily on precedent when the Court's decision is accompanied by separate opinions. We also show that diversity of opinion on the Court, a factor often overlooked, has a significant relationship with citations to precedent. Finally, our results indicate that the ideology of the median justice influences citation practices more so than the majority opinion writer's ideology.

Suggested Citation

Lupu, Yonatan and Fowler, James H., Strategic Citations to Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court (November 15, 2012). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 42, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1358782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1358782

Yonatan Lupu (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

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