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Strategic Bargaining on the United States Courts of Appeals

33 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 10 Mar 2010

Ryan J. Owens

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science

Ryan C. Black

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 5, 2009

Abstract

We employ never before used archival data to provide the rst, systematic examination of the conditions under which federal circuit court judges craft legal opinions. We undertake this analysis in the context of judges' responses to opinion drafts. We examine every private record maintained by former D.C. Circuit Judge J. Skelly Wright (1962-1988), which yields nearly five thousand observations across roughly 2500 cases. Our results provide strong support for ideological, contextual, and institutional components to the development of law and the distribution of policy benefi ts. Judges are more likely to try to alter the majority opinion the more ideologically distant they are from the opinion writer. At the same time, contextual factors and institutional dynamics influence the responses judges provide. Law evolves, then, as a result of judges seeking their personal policy goals, tempered by the immediate constraints of their office.

Keywords: strategic decision making, bargaining, circuit courts

Suggested Citation

Owens, Ryan J. and Black, Ryan C., Strategic Bargaining on the United States Courts of Appeals (September 5, 2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1452354

Ryan J. Owens (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science ( email )

406 North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2279 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.wisc.edu/profiles/rjowens@wisc.edu

Ryan C. Black

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ryancblack.org

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