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

James Cleith Phillips

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Students

Edward Carter

Brigham Young University

Date Written: June 13, 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Phillips, James Cleith and Carter, Edward, Gender and U. S. Supreme Court Oral Argument on the Roberts Court: An Empirical Examination (June 13, 2011). Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 40, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1483330

James Cleith Phillips (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Students ( email )

Berkeley, CA
United States

Edward Carter

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

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