Politics From the Bench?: Ideology and Strategic Voting in the U.S. Supreme Court
62 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018 Last revised: 4 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 2019
In the United States, Supreme Court justices often vote along ideological lines. Why this is the case remains incompletely understood. To learn more about the nature of decision-making in the Court, we differentiate between votes that were pivotal and those that were not. When a justice's own vote decides the outcome of a case, her ideology plays an even greater role in determining her choice than usual. We develop and empirically assess a model of voting in which justices trade off expressive and instrumental concerns. The evidence suggests that justices behave strategically, at least in part, to affect precedent. We also consider, but ultimately dismiss, a class of alternative explanations related to legalistic uncertainty.
Keywords: Judicial Politics, Supreme Court, Strategic Voting, Ideology
JEL Classification: D72, K00, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation