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State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns

57 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2012  

Adam Bonica

Stanford University Department of Political Science

Michael J. Woodruff

New York University Department of Politics

Date Written: October 31, 2012

Abstract

We introduce a new method to measure the ideology of state supreme court justices using campaign finance records. In addition to recovering ideal point estimates for both incumbent and challenger candidates, the method's unified estimation framework recovers judicial ideal points in a common ideological space with a diverse set of candidates for state and federal office, thus facilitating comparisons across states and institutions. We use these measures to study the relationship between judicial selection methods and the quality of ideological representation in the state courts. We find that judicial elections can lead to more representative courts but that the beneficial effects are negated by policies intended to promote judicial impartiality by limiting the politicizing effects of partisan affiliation and campaign speech. We provide a direct test of this claim by exploiting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White as a natural experiment.

Keywords: state courts, ideology, judical politics, judicial selection, judicial elections, ideal point estimation

Suggested Citation

Bonica, Adam and Woodruff, Michael J., State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns (October 31, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2169664 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2169664

Adam Bonica (Contact Author)

Stanford University Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Michael J. Woodruff

New York University Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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