Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from The U.S. Courts of Appeals Are Politically Motivated

26 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016 Last revised: 19 May 2017

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Date Written: April 20, 2017

Abstract

Less than 1% of U.S. Federal judges report political motivations for retirement and resignation. However using two centuries of data, I show that 13% of retirements and 36% of resignations follow political cycles. When the President comes from a different political party as judge’s party of appointment, U.S. Courts of Appeals judges are less likely to retire in each of the three quarters before a Presidential election. In contrast, judges are more likely to resign in each of the four quarters after a Presidential election when the President comes from the judge’s party of appointment. Politically motivated exits have increased significantly in recent years to constitute one-fifth of retirements since 1975. I am able to uncover these patterns by analyzing the data at the quarter-to-election level, while prior research has relied on self-reports or yearly analysis. That highly experienced professionals making common law precedent can be self-deceiving raises questions about judicial impartiality. I cannot rule out the possibility that judges are outright deceptive, which also raises the question of outright deception of professionals who claim to be fair.

Keywords: Judicial Tenure, Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty, Polarization

JEL Classification: D7, K0, Z1

Suggested Citation

Chen, Daniel L., Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from The U.S. Courts of Appeals Are Politically Motivated (April 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816253 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2816253

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

21 allée de Brienne
31015 Toulouse cedex 6 France
Toulouse, 31015
France

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
33
Abstract Views
446
PlumX Metrics