The Politics of Opinion Assignment and Authorship on the U.S. Court of Appeals: Evidence from Sexual Harassment Cases

47 Pages Posted: 23 May 2012 Last revised: 24 Apr 2014

See all articles by Sean Farhang

Sean Farhang

U.C. Berkeley Law School

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Gregory Wawro

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 23, 2014

Abstract

We evaluate opinion assignment and opinion authorship on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Based on the Courts of Appeals' distinct institutional setting, we derive theoretical explanations and predictions for opinion assignment on three-judge panels. Using an original dataset of sexual harassment cases, we test our predictions and find that women and more liberal judges are substantially more likely to write opinions in sexual harassment cases. We further find that this pattern appears to result not from policy-driven behavior by women and liberals assigners, but from an institutional environment in which judges seek out opinions they wish to write. Judicial opinions are the vehicles of judicial policy, and thus these results have important implications for the relationship between legal rules and opinion assignment and for the study of diversity and representation on multimember courts.

Keywords: Opinion assignment, authorship, Courts of Appeals, gender, ideology, sexual harassment

Suggested Citation

Farhang, Sean and Kastellec, Jonathan P. and Wawro, Gregory, The Politics of Opinion Assignment and Authorship on the U.S. Court of Appeals: Evidence from Sexual Harassment Cases (April 23, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2064861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2064861

Sean Farhang

U.C. Berkeley Law School ( email )

694 Simon Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Fisher Hall
Department of Politics
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Gregory Wawro

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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