Executive Branch Socialization and Deference on the U.S. Supreme Court

Law and Society Review, 46(4), 889-921

34 Pages Posted: 25 May 2010 Last revised: 14 May 2013

Date Written: October 18, 2012


Are Supreme Court justices with prior experience in the executive branch more likely to defer to the president in separation of powers cases? While previous research has suggested that such background may signal judicial policy preferences but does not shape them, I argue here that institutional socialization may indeed increase future judicial deference to the president. Using an original data set of executive power cases decided between 1942 and 2007, I model justice-votes to test this hypothesis. I uncover three noteworthy findings: (1) a clear correlation between prior executive branch experience and support for the executive branch, (2) the degree of this support intensifies with increased executive branch tenure, a finding congruent with a socialization hypothesis, and (3) contrary to received wisdom, executive powers cases possess a clear ideological dimension, in line with the expectations of the attitudinal model.

This is a preprint of an Article accepted for publication in Law and Society Review, © 2012 Law and Society Association.

Keywords: Supreme Court, nominees, executive branch, separation of powers

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Robert R., Executive Branch Socialization and Deference on the U.S. Supreme Court (October 18, 2012). Law and Society Review, 46(4), 889-921, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1610257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1610257

Robert R. Robinson (Contact Author)

Cal State Fullerton ( email )

800 N State College St
Fullerton, CA 92831
United States

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