Judicial Hostility Toward Labor Unions? Applying the Social Background Model to a Celebrated Concern
Posted: 18 Apr 2001
Brudney, Schiavoni, and Merritt address an important debate dividing lawyers and political scientists: To what extent do extradoctrinal factors such as political party, gender, and professional experience influence judicial decisionmaking? They analyze an area of law, decisions interpreting the National Labor Relations Act, that has long been characterized by assertions of judicial bias. By including every federal court of appeals decision applying the Act over a seven year period, and controlling for both deference to the administrative agency and differences among issues arising under the Act, the authors are able to identify previously undetected influences on judicial decisionmaking. These include a strong interaction between gender and political party, the influence of prior experience representing management clients under the Act, and associations based on race, religion, and educational background. At the same time, the authors place those influences in context, suggesting the complex interweaving of doctrine and personal background in shaping judicial decisions.
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