Strategic Judicial Preference Revelation

43 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2012

Date Written: March 22, 2012


We examine the revelation of preferences of justices whose true ideologies are not known at the moment of entering the Court but gradually become apparent through their judicial decisions. In the context of a two-period President-Senate-Court game – generalizing Moraski and Shipan (1999) – we show that: while moderate new justices always vote truthfully, more extreme new justices may vote disingenuously at the beginning of their tenures. By concealing their true ideologies, new justices move the perceived ideology of the overall Court closer to their ideally preferred outcome, which influences the selection of future justices. New justices will sometimes have an incentive to exaggerate the extremeness of their preferences, and at other times they will seek to appear more moderate. The manifestation of untruthful voting will depend on the characteristics of the cases, the initial ideologies of the justices, the President, and Senate, and the probabilities of retirement of the current justices.

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40

Suggested Citation

Bustos, Álvaro E. and Jacobi, Tonja, Strategic Judicial Preference Revelation (March 22, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Álvaro E. Bustos (Contact Author)

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile ( email )

Vicuna Mackena 4860. Macul

HOME PAGE: http://

Tonja Jacobi

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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