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Measuring the Influence of Supreme Court Justices

Montgomery Kosma

Strategality llc

June 1, 1998

Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, p. 333, 1998

This empirical study measures the influence of ninety-nine retired Supreme Court justices, analyzing over 1.2 million citations to over 24,000 opinions of the Court written between 1793 and 1991. It models the appointment process as the selection of a capital investment, treating a justice's output as the precedents generated each term and using citations as a proxy for an opinion's value. This model is applied to the retired justices and their opinions, and its consistency is tested by independently analyzing citations by subsequent Supreme Court and circuit court opinions. Influence values also demonstrably track the results of a well-known survey of judicial greatness. The study challenges several common assumptions. Older appointees have been no less influential than young appointees, and, on an annual basis, older appointees have actually been more influential. Private attorneys have made the most influential appointees, and former judges show no special advantages.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Supreme Court Justices, nominations, appointments, citation

JEL Classification: K4

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Date posted: May 30, 2009 ; Last revised: April 27, 2010

Suggested Citation

Kosma, Montgomery, Measuring the Influence of Supreme Court Justices (June 1, 1998). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, p. 333, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1410280

Contact Information

Montgomery N. Kosma (Contact Author)
Strategality llc ( email )
3912 Millcreek Dr.
Annandale, VA 22003
United States
4154390060 (Phone)
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