Empiricism, Religion, and Judicial Decision-Making

15 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2010 Last revised: 31 Aug 2010

Stephen Matthew Feldman

University of Wyoming - College of Law

Date Written: 2006


This Essay reviews empirical studies suggesting that the religious orientations of judges and litigants affect judicial outcomes. These empirical studies, however, necessarily have limitations: They do not unequivocally prove any hypotheses, but rather provide evidence of certain tendencies in judicial decision making. Specifically, the religious orientations of both the judge (or judges) and the claimants appear to affect whether or not a religious freedom claim, particularly one brought under the free exercise clause, is likely to be either validated or invalidated. More generally, an individual’s perceived membership in a social group is likely to influence his or her values, interests, and judgments.

Keywords: empiricism, religion, judicial decision-making, religious freedom

Suggested Citation

Feldman, Stephen Matthew, Empiricism, Religion, and Judicial Decision-Making (2006). William & Mary Bill of Rights, Vol. 15, p. 43, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1522246

Stephen Matthew Feldman (Contact Author)

University of Wyoming - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 3035
Laramie, WY 82071
United States

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