An Expert-Sourced Measure of Judicial Ideology

28 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2024 Last revised: 18 Apr 2024

See all articles by Kevin L. Cope

Kevin L. Cope

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: February 29, 2024

Abstract

This Article develops the Jurist-Derived Judicial Ideology Scores (JuDJIS) initiative, the first dynamic method for systematically measuring the ideologies and other traits of nearly the entire Article III judiciary. The measure derives from computational text analysis of over 20,000 written evaluations by a representative sample of tens of thousands of jurists as part of an ongoing, systematic survey initiative began in 1985. The resulting data constitute not only the first such comprehensive federal-court measure that is dynamic, but also the only such measure that is based on judging, and the only such measure that is potentially multi-dimensional. The results of empirical validity tests reflect these advantages. Validation on a set of several-thousand appellate decisions indicates that the ideology estimates predict outcomes more accurately than the existing appellate measures, such as the Judicial Common Space. In addition to informing theoretical debates about the nature of judicial ideology and decision-making, the JuDJIS initiative might lead courts scholars to revisit some of the lower-court research findings of the last two decades, which are generally based on static models. Perhaps most importantly, this method could foster breakthroughs in courts research that, until now, were impossible due to data limitations.

Keywords: judicial ideology, judicial behavior, measurement

Suggested Citation

Cope, Kevin L., An Expert-Sourced Measure of Judicial Ideology (February 29, 2024). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2024-26, Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2024-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4742254 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4742254

Kevin L. Cope (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
WB345
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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