An Empirical Study of Political Bias in Legal Scholarship

41 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2014 Last revised: 2 Aug 2015

Adam S. Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: July 16, 2015

Abstract

Law professors routinely accuse each other of making politically biased arguments in their scholarship. They have also helped produce a large empirical literature on judicial behavior that has found that judicial opinions sometimes reflect the ideological biases of the judges who join them. Yet no one has used statistical methods to test the parallel hypothesis that legal scholarship reflects the political biases of law professors. This paper provides the results of such a test. We find that, at a statistically significant level, law professors at elite law schools who make donations to Democratic political candidates write liberal scholarship, and law professors who make donations to Republican political candidates write conservative scholarship. These findings raise questions about standards of objectivity in legal scholarship.

Suggested Citation

Chilton, Adam S. and Posner, Eric A., An Empirical Study of Political Bias in Legal Scholarship (July 16, 2015). University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 696. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2478908

Adam S. Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/

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