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The Politics of Judicial Opposition

21 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011 Last revised: 6 Jun 2012

Joanna Shepherd

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 2010


Existing studies of judicial decision-making have found that elected judges are more likely to dissent and to oppose judges from the same party. These findings are explained by elected judges having stronger preferences for risk or being more independent. In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation: judges’ efforts to be retained should yield different patterns of opposition among judges facing reelection and reappointment. I test my hypothesis using data from four years of state supreme courts decisions. Estimation results from probit models and mixed effects nested logit models suggest that judges’ retention concerns are important influences on their opposition voting.

Keywords: judicial decision-making, dissent

JEL Classification: K00, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Shepherd, Joanna, The Politics of Judicial Opposition (2010). Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, Vol 166, p. 88, 2010; Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 11-165; Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-112. 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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