Citation to Legislative History: Empirical Evidence on Positive Political and Contextual Theories of Judicial Decision Making

26 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2013

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

We present empirical evidence suggesting that political context – judicial hierarchy and judicial panel dynamics – influences an authoring judge’s use of legislative history. Specifically, we find that to the extent that political ideology matters, a district court judge’s choice of legislative history is influenced, albeit mostly, by (1) the political makeup of the overseeing circuit court and (2) the political characteristics of a judge’s panel colleagues, as well as by the circuit court as a whole. These factors matter more than the authoring judge’s own political-ideological connection to the legislators. Put differently, an authoring judge will have a greater tendency to cite legislative history by legislators who share political affiliation with the colleagues and superiors of the authoring judge than legislators sharing the same political party affiliation as the authoring judge himself. These findings are consistent generally with positive political and contextual theories of judicial persuasion, collegiality, and strategic decision making.

Keywords: citation, legislative history, judicial decision making, political context, empirical evidence, judicial hierarchy, judicial panels, judges, district courts, circuit courts, colleagues, strategic decision making

JEL Classification: H11, K49, P16

Suggested Citation

Abramowicz, Michael B. and Tiller, Emerson H., Citation to Legislative History: Empirical Evidence on Positive Political and Contextual Theories of Judicial Decision Making (2009). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2009; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-84; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-84. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282577

Michael B. Abramowicz (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Emerson H. Tiller

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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