Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges
Journal of Law and Economics, 60(3), 479-496, 2017
24 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017 Last revised: 25 Dec 2018
Date Written: April 28, 2017
We find field evidence consistent with experimental studies that document the contexts and characteristics making individuals more susceptible to priming. Just before U.S. Presidential elections, judges on the U.S. Courts of Appeals double the rate at which they dissent and vote along partisan lines. Increases are accentuated for judges with less experience and in polarized environments. During periods of national unity — wartime, for example — judges suppress dissents, again, especially by judges with less experience and in polarized environments. We show the dissent rate increases gradually from 6% to nearly 12% in the quarter before an election and returns immediately to 6% after the election. If highly experienced professionals making common law precedent can be politically primed, it raises questions about the perceived impartiality of the judiciary.
Keywords: Electoral Cycles, Judges, Courts, Wartime, Presidential Elections, Dissents
JEL Classification: D03, G02, D8
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation