Competing Models of Judicial Coalition Formation and Case Outcome Determination

49 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2009

See all articles by Tonja Jacobi

Tonja Jacobi

Emory University School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 28, 2009


Forming a coalition on a multi-judge panel involves an inherent trade-off between coalition maximization and ideological outcome optimization. Much scholarship is premised on assumptions about how judges make that trade-off; these assumptions have consequences for how we view and measure judicial decision-making. Specifying these assumptions, formally modeling their effects, and basing measures of judicial behavior on these results offer the potential to improve analysis of judicial decision-making. This article formally explores three commonly posited modes of judicial decision-making: a minimum winning coalition model, representing attitudinalist views of judicial decision-making; a maximum winning coalition, capturing the effect of norms of joint opinion writing and collegiality; and a strategic model, incorporating the concept of the credibility of a marginal justice’s threat to defect from a majority coalition. Each model yields comprehensive predictions of case outcome positions and coalition sizes under given Court compositions; the Rehnquist Court and Roberts Courts are examined here. The models are then operationalized as measures for empirical use. The different impact of the three measures is illustrated by re-running Baird and Jacobi’s analysis of judicial signaling on case outcomes using each measure.

Keywords: competing, models, judicial, coalition, formation, case outcome, determination, Jacobi

Suggested Citation

Jacobi, Tonja, Competing Models of Judicial Coalition Formation and Case Outcome Determination (August 28, 2009). The Journal of Legal Analysis, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 411-458, Summer 2009, Available at SSRN:

Tonja Jacobi (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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Atlanta, GA 30322
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