Forecasting Opinion Assignment on the Supreme Court

25 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 6 Sep 2012

See all articles by Paul J. Wahlbeck

Paul J. Wahlbeck

George Washington University

Alyx Mark

Wesleyan University Dept. of Government; American Bar Foundation; North Central College Dept. of Political Science

Ryan Krog

George Washington University

Phillip Wininger

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Opinion assignment is one of the Chief Justice’s principal responsibilities on the U.S Supreme Court. Recognizing that this task provides the Chief a key opportunity to shape Court outcomes and agendas, political scientists have examined historical assignment patterns in an attempt to discover the causal factors that determine how opinions are assigned. This body of research reveals that multiple factors — both attitudinal and organizational — may underlie the opinion assignment process. While incorporating the theoretical and empirical contributions of previous studies, this project seeks to take extant research to the next level: a forecasting model designed to predict future opinion assignments. Each year, sources like SCOTUSblog attempt to predict opinion assignment and associated case outcomes for future cases — predictions often reiterated through various media outlets. In an effort to ground these armchair predictions in viable theory and a systematic forecasting model, this paper, first, develops an explanatory model of opinion assignment based upon the 2004-2008 Supreme Court terms and, second, uses this model to assesses the probabilities of opinion assignment for each justice with respect to cases decided during an out-of-sample 2010 term.

Keywords: Supreme Court, opinion assignment, judicial politics, chief justice

JEL Classification: D70

Suggested Citation

Wahlbeck, Paul J. and Mark, Alyx and Krog, Ryan and Wininger, Phillip, Forecasting Opinion Assignment on the Supreme Court (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2107411

Paul J. Wahlbeck (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

Department of Political Science
2115 G Street, N.W. Ste 440
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-4872 (Phone)
202-994-7743 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://home.gwu.edu/~wahlbeck

Alyx Mark

Wesleyan University Dept. of Government ( email )

United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

North Central College Dept. of Political Science ( email )

30 N Brainard St
Naperville, IL 60540
United States
6306375366 (Phone)

Ryan Krog

George Washington University ( email )

Phillip Wininger

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

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