Bad Law Before it Goes Bad: Citation Networks and the Life Cycle of Overruled Supreme Court Precedent

Network Analysis in Law, Radboud Winkels ed., ESI Law, Science & Technology Series (2013)

26 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2012 Last revised: 11 Feb 2020

See all articles by Ryan Whalen

Ryan Whalen

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 5, 2012

Abstract

This essay expands the empirical analysis of overruled Supreme Court decisions by including citation network centrality measures and comparative depreciation analysis to compare overruled decisions to matched peers. We demonstrate that those decisions which go on to be overruled tend to occupy more central citation network positions, cite more central cases, and depreciate at a slower rate than similarly influential decisions. These empirical demonstrations of how bad law is distinct in both the way it cites and in the way it is cited help shed light on how the judiciary affects legal change. We see that judges reserve the power of overrulings for decisions that are both significantly more central than their peers and for decisions that remain salient for longer than their peers.

Keywords: citation networks, precedent networks, legal precedent, stare decisis, judicial behavior

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Whalen, Ryan, Bad Law Before it Goes Bad: Citation Networks and the Life Cycle of Overruled Supreme Court Precedent (July 5, 2012). Network Analysis in Law, Radboud Winkels ed., ESI Law, Science & Technology Series (2013), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2101273 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2101273

Ryan Whalen (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

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