The Politics of Legal Empirics: Do Political Attitudes Predict the Results of Empirical Legal Scholarship?

13 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018 Last revised: 24 Apr 2018

Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Cornell Law School

Date Written: February 26, 2018

Abstract

Empirical legal scholarship has emerged as a dominant trend in legal scholarship. At its best, empirical scholarship subjects assertions about the effect of legal rules to a neutral test. But is empirical inquiry truly neutral? The validity of an empirical study should rest on the reliability of the methods used, rather than the political implications of its conclusions. Scholars might choose targets of inquiry, sources of data, or methods of analysis that support their political allegiances. This paper tests this thesis by matching the political beliefs of authors of empirical legal scholarship with the results of their research. The political allegiances of authors mildly correlate with the results of empirical inquiry in legal scholarship.

Keywords: empirical legal scholarship

JEL Classification: A10, C10

Suggested Citation

Rachlinski , Jeffrey J., The Politics of Legal Empirics: Do Political Attitudes Predict the Results of Empirical Legal Scholarship? (February 26, 2018). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3130086 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3130086

Jeffrey John Rachlinski (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-5878 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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