Strategic Cooperation: Modeling Concurring Behavior on the U.S. Supreme Court

American Politics Research 44(4): 618-648

31 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

How do competing motivations influence the decisions of justices to author concurring opinions? Justices must balance their desire to shape the law and public policy toward their preferred position with the need for strong and stable coalitions. We construct a theoretical model of cooperative behavior that explicitly accounts for the competing individual- and group- level considerations of U.S. Supreme Court justices. Our theory identifies conditions specific to justices, coalitions, and cases that make the authoring of a separate opinion attractive to justices. We test these expectations using data from 40 years of justice votes within some 4,500 cases. The results of our empirical analyses support our theoretical expectations and show that the choice of a justice in the initial majority to write separately is conditional on characteristics of the justices and the coalition. We also highlight the important implications of our findings for the study of judicial decision making and policy-making more generally.

Keywords: Supreme Court, decision-making, strategy, concurrence, multilevel modeling

Suggested Citation

O'Geen, Andrew J. and Parker, Christopher, Strategic Cooperation: Modeling Concurring Behavior on the U.S. Supreme Court (2016). American Politics Research 44(4): 618-648, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2788040

Andrew J. O'Geen (Contact Author)

Davidson College ( email )

Box 7134
Davidson, NC 28035-6964
United States

Christopher Parker

University of Rhode Island ( email )

RI
United States

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