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The Political Ideologies of Law Clerks

56 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016 Last revised: 11 Sep 2017

Adam Bonica

Stanford University Department of Political Science

Adam S. Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Jacob Goldin

Stanford Law School

Kyle Rozema

University of Chicago - Law School

Maya Sen

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: July 21, 2016

Abstract

In order to study the political ideologies of judicial law clerks in the United States, we construct a novel dataset that combines information on the identity of clerks with a measure of political ideology based on political donations. We then use this data to empirically investigate several important questions about the ideologies of clerks. First, we examine whether clerks tend to share the liberal ideology of other lawyers or the more conservative ideology associated with federal judges and find that clerks tend to be disproportionately liberal. Second, we investigate how the ideologies of clerks compares to the ideologies of lawyers and find that liberal lawyers are more likely to have clerked than conservatives. Third, we assess whether the ideologies of clerks differs based on the level of clerkship and find that the liberal skew becomes less pronounced as the prestige of the clerkship increases. Fourth, we analyze the relationship between ideology and the hiring of clerks and find that the ideology of judges is strongly correlated with the ideology of their clerks.

Keywords: Political Ideologies, Law Clerks, Judges

JEL Classification: M51

Suggested Citation

Bonica, Adam and Chilton, Adam S. and Goldin, Jacob and Rozema, Kyle and Sen, Maya, The Political Ideologies of Law Clerks (July 21, 2016). American Law and Economics Review 19(1):96-128, 2017; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 756. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2739478 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2739478

Adam Bonica

Stanford University Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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

Jacob Goldin

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Kyle Rozema

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.kylerozema.com

Maya Sen

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://scholar.harvard.edu/msen

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