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Diversity, Tenure, and Dissent

10 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011 Last revised: 29 May 2012

Joanna Shepherd

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: March 2, 2010


Although academics have long recognized that institutions such as opinion assignment procedures and voting order might influence the propensity to dissent, empirical studies have failed to recognize the importance of collegiality and personal relationships on dissent rates. Thus, in this short essay, I empirically test whether some of the judges’ assertions are consistent with the empirical data. I test whether various measures of diversity are associated with dissent rates in state supreme courts. I find that diversity in many areas - gender, race, age, religion, home state, and political affiliation - is associated with higher levels of dissent. In contrast, diversity in the jobs the judges had before taking the bench is associated with lower dissent rates.

Keywords: judicial decision-making, dissent, diversity

JEL Classification: K00, K40

Suggested Citation

Shepherd, Joanna, Diversity, Tenure, and Dissent (March 2, 2010). Legal Workshop; Duke Law Journal, 2010; Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-111. Available at SSRN:

Joanna Shepherd (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-8957 (Phone)

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