The New Judicial Politics of Legal Doctrine

Posted: 12 May 2011

See all articles by Jeffrey R. Lax

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 2011


A new judicial politics of legal doctrine has the potential to resolve foundational dilemmas and reconcile long-standing and counterproductive scholarly divisions by bringing together legal concerns and political science priorities. This doctrinal-politics approach highlights a relatively new formal apparatus known as the case-space model, and it invokes close ties between theoretical and empirical work and between the study of judicial behavior and actual legal practices and institutions. The case-space model is an adaption of standard policy-space modeling, tailored for the distinguishing features of judicial policy making. It allows for ideological differences between judges while expressing those differences in terms of legal rules that partition fact-filled legal cases into different dispositions. I explore the intellectual origins and primary contributions of the approach, focusing on how legal policy is affected by collegiality (the multi-member nature of appellate courts) and hierarchy (the multi-level division of court systems).

Suggested Citation

Lax, Jeffrey R., The New Judicial Politics of Legal Doctrine (June 2011). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 14, pp. 131-157, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Jeffrey R. Lax (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics