Signaling and Counter-Signaling in the Judicial Hierarchy: An Empirical Analysis of En Banc Review

42 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2014 Last revised: 18 Oct 2014

See all articles by Deborah Beim

Deborah Beim

Yale University

Alexander V. Hirsch

California Institute of Technology

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 17, 2014

Abstract

We leverage the institutional features of American courts to evaluate the importance of whistleblowers in hierarchical oversight. Drawing on a formal theory of signaling in the judicial hierarchy, we examine the role of whistleblowing dissents in triggering en banc review of three-judge panels by full circuits of the Courts of Appeals. The theory generates predictions about how dissent interacts with judicial preferences to influence circuits' review and reversal decisions, which we test using original and existing data. First, we show that judges who dissent counter to their preferences are more likely to see their dissents lead to review and reversal. Second, we show that dissents are most influential when the likelihood of non-compliance by a three-judge panel is higher. Our results underscore the importance of dissent in the judicial hierarchy and illustrate how judicial whistleblowers can help appellate courts target the most important cases for review.

Suggested Citation

Beim, Deborah and Hirsch, Alexander V. and Kastellec, Jonathan P., Signaling and Counter-Signaling in the Judicial Hierarchy: An Empirical Analysis of En Banc Review (October 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2468110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2468110

Deborah Beim

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Alexander V. Hirsch

California Institute of Technology ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Fisher Hall
Department of Politics
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

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