Political Discrimination in the Law Review Selection Process
63 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2018 Last revised: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 29, 2019
The career trajectories of law professors and the dissemination of knowledge depend on the publication decisions of law review editors. However, these publication decisions are shrouded in mystery, and little is known about the factors that affect them. In this article, we investigate one potentially important factor: political ideology. To do so, we match data on the political ideology of student editors from 15 top law reviews over a 15 year period to data on the political ideology of the authors of accepted articles. We find that editors accept articles in part because of shared political ideology with authors. That is, conservative editors are more likely to accept articles written by conservative authors, and liberal editors are more likely to accept articles written by liberal authors. We then investigate potential explanations for this ideological discrimination. One possibility is that student editors simply have a preference for publishing articles that promote their political ideology. Another possibility is that student editors are objectively better at assessing the contribution of articles written by authors with shared ideology. We find evidence that the ideological discrimination is driven by student editors’ superior ability to ascertain the quality of articles that match their own ideology.
Keywords: Academia, Publication Process, Bias, Statistical Discrimination, Political Ideology, Law Professor, Law Review
JEL Classification: I23, J15, J70, J71, K0, M51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation