Ducking Trouble: Congressionally-Induced Selection Bias in the Supreme Court's Agenda

50 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2009

See all articles by Anna Harvey

Anna Harvey

New York University Department of Politics

Barry Friedman

New York University School of Law

Date Written: March 30, 2009

Abstract

Existing studies of congressional influence on Supreme Court decision-making have largely failed to recognize the fact that the Court has a discretionary docket. We model the effects of congressional preferences on the certiorari decision, and find strong evidence that the Court's constitutional agenda is systematically influenced by Congress. The Court's docket is significantly less likely to contain cases wherein there are large congressionally-induced deviations between what the Court would like to do, and what it can do in its final rulings. This selection bias in the Court's docket can lead to considerable uncertainty in estimating the effects of congressional constraint on the Court's final decisions, including a failure to properly reject the null hypothesis of no constraint.

Suggested Citation

Harvey, Anna and Friedman, Barry, Ducking Trouble: Congressionally-Induced Selection Bias in the Supreme Court's Agenda (March 30, 2009). Journal of Politics, April 2009 ; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 09-17; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 09-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1370402

Anna Harvey

New York University Department of Politics ( email )

19 W. 4th St.
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Barry Friedman (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Room 317
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6293 (Phone)
212-995-4030 (Fax)

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