Gender and U. S. Supreme Court Oral Argument on the Roberts Court: An Empirical Examination
43 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2009 Last revised: 22 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 13, 2011
The nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the U. S. Supreme Court rekindled the debate surrounding gender and judicial behavior and decision making. While numerous studies have looked at the potential influence of a judge’s gender on voting patterns, there has been no scholarship to date investigating how the interaction of a Justice’s gender and an attorney’s gender, after controlling for other factors, influences judicial behavior during oral argument. This study empirically explores gender and oral argument by content analyzing over 13,000 sentences from 57 oral arguments during 2004-2009, measuring Justices’ levels of information-seeking and word counts. Statistical analysis of the individual Justices showed that having the same gender as the arguing attorney did influence judicial behavior for some of the Court. Furthermore, ideology also interacted with gender matching in a fairly consistent partisan divide.
Keywords: oral argument, gender, Supreme Court
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