Supreme Court Elections and Tort Law Decisions

22 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2014

Date Written: July 8, 2014


Research has shown that method of retention has direct and indirect impacts on state supreme court decision-making in death penalty cases and in abortion cases. This paper asks whether similar effects can be found for tort cases, an legal area that has been an important motivator for interest group participation in state supreme court elections. Using data on over 38,000 votes by justices on state courts of last resort compiled by the State Supreme Court Data Project, the analysis shows some possible effects, but those effects are contingent on (a) which side brings the appeal (plaintiff or defendant), and (b) how the interdependence among the votes is modeled. Because of these ambiguities, the results are at best suggestive that retention system may have some effect on how the justices decide tort law issues.

Keywords: Judicial Behavior, State Supreme Court Elections

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M., Supreme Court Elections and Tort Law Decisions (July 8, 2014). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-33, Available at SSRN: or

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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