Dissent Aversion and Sequential Voting in the Brazilian Supreme Court
23 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 18, 2018
In this study, I investigate the determinants of judicial dissent in the Brazilian Supreme Court. Particularly, I seek to disentangle two features of judicial behavior that are known to affect the decision to dissent: ideological heterogeneity and dissent aversion. To do so, I explore the fact that voting in this Court is sequential, that there is a predetermined voting order that varies in nearly every case, to identify where dissent aversion will manifest. The main idea is that after a majority has been formed, the justices who vote in sequence know that their votes cannot change the outcome of the case. Hence, they may deviate from their preferred votes and join the majority to avoid the costs of dissenting. Using vote-level data of all abstract review cases heard by the Court from 1990 until 2015, I find strong evidence of dissent aversion in the Brazilian Supreme Court. Judges who vote after the pivotal judge are significantly less likely to dissent. The evidence for ideology, however, does not survive all robustness checks.
Keywords: dissent aversion, ideological heterogeneity, sequential voting
JEL Classification: K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation