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

See all articles by Carlos Berdejó

Carlos Berdejó

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

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 28, 2017

Abstract

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

Berdejó, Carlos and Chen, Daniel L., Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges (April 28, 2017). Journal of Law and Economics, 60(3), 479-496, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928201

Carlos Berdejó

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States

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

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