Judicial Impartiality, Campaign Contributions, and Recusals: Results from a National Survey

28 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2013  

James L. Gibson

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Gregory A. Caldeira

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2013

Abstract

Legal scholars have of late become quite worried about how citizens form their impressions of the fairness of courts. This concern reflects the changing environments of courts, especially elected state courts, and what might generally be termed the politicization of the judiciary. The purpose of this article is to assess the effectiveness of judicial recusals at rehabilitating a court/judge tainted by perceived conflicts of interest associated with campaign activities by litigants. Based on an experimental design embedded in a nationally representative sample, our data first confirm that direct campaign contributions undermine perceptions of fairness; but, unexpectedly, so, too, does independent support for the candidate. Most important, recusal does indeed restore some perceived fairness; unfortunately, the repair to public perceptions is not to the level enjoyed when no conflict of interest exists. In a postā€Citizens United world, these findings therefore point to significant threats to the legitimacy of elected state courts.

Suggested Citation

Gibson, James L. and Caldeira, Gregory A., Judicial Impartiality, Campaign Contributions, and Recusals: Results from a National Survey (March 2013). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 76-103, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2203215 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12003

James L. Gibson (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Gregory A. Caldeira

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

2140 Derby Hall 154 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1373
United States
614-292-2880 (Phone)
614-292-1146 (Fax)

Paper statistics

Downloads
2
Abstract Views
912