Bias and Judging

Posted: 28 May 2019

See all articles by Allison P. Harris

Allison P. Harris

Pennsylvania State University - University Park

Maya Sen

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: May 2019

Abstract

How do we know whether judges of different backgrounds are biased? We review the substantial political science literature on judicial decision making, paying close attention to how judges' demographics and ideology can influence or structure their decision making. As the research demonstrates, characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender can sometimes predict judicial decision making in limited kinds of cases; however, the literature also suggests that these characteristics are far less important in shaping or predicting outcomes than is ideology (or partisanship), which in turn correlates closely with gender, race, and ethnicity. This leads us to conclude that assuming judges of different backgrounds are biased because they rule differently is questionable. Given that the application of the law rarely provides one objectively correct answer, it is no surprise that judges' decisions vary according to their personal backgrounds and, more importantly, according to their ideology.

Suggested Citation

Harris, Allison P. and Sen, Maya, Bias and Judging (May 2019). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, pp. 241-259, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3394078 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051617-090650

Allison P. Harris

Pennsylvania State University - University Park ( email )

201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1294
United States

Maya Sen (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://scholar.harvard.edu/msen

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
8
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations while be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information