Mobilizing Judicial Resources: The Information Theory in Action

50 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2010

See all articles by Nancy C. Staudt

Nancy C. Staudt

Washington University Law School

Date Written: July 2, 2010


This is chapter in a book, "The Judicial Power of the Purse: How Courts Fund National Defense in Times of Crisis." The book manuscript investigates federal judges' hidden financial powers and sets forth a theory for how, why, and when judges will exercise their budgetary authority in times of foreign policy crisis. This chapter is one of several empirical components of the manuscript and presents quantitative data indicating that judges seek both to increase and decrease the level of resources moving into the national government's coffers depending on the cues received from the elected branches of government and the nature of the pending crisis. Relying on an original dataset and thousands of taxation cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the study uncovers evidence that that justices systematically supported the government both before and after the cold war, but withheld resources during the major deployments that took place during the cold war period. Notably, however, the justices were willing to redirect monies into the hands of the government even during the cold war, but only when the elected branches, themselves, increased the size of the defense budget. The data with respect to other areas of the law and in the lower federal courts are not as striking, and indeed, do not supply evidence that the judges utilize their financial powers in any systematic or predictable fashion.

Keywords: courts, empirical studies, war, foreign policy, taxation, fiscal policy

JEL Classification: K34, H29, C53, C25

Suggested Citation

Staudt, Nancy Christine, Mobilizing Judicial Resources: The Information Theory in Action (July 2, 2010). 5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Nancy Christine Staudt (Contact Author)

Washington University Law School ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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