Politics from the Bench? Ideology and Strategic Voting in the U.S. Supreme Court

74 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2019

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2018


Supreme Court justices often vote along ideological lines. Is this due to a genuinely different interpretation of the law, or does it reflect justices' desire to resolve politically charged legal questions in accordance with their personal views? 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 choice decides the outcome of a case, her ideology plays an even greater role in determining her vote - both relative to her choices on other cases and relative to other justices voting on the same case. We develop and empirically assess a model of voting in which judges trade off expressive and instrumental concerns. The evidence we present suggests that justices vote strategically, at least in part, to affect precedent.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Tom and Montagnes, B. Pablo and Spenkuch, Jörg L., Politics from the Bench? Ideology and Strategic Voting in the U.S. Supreme Court (2018). CESifo Working Paper No. 7264, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3338588

Tom Clark (Contact Author)

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

B. Pablo Montagnes

Emory University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Jörg L. Spenkuch

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS) ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jspenkuch.github.io

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