Determinants of Cohesion in the Supreme Court's Network of Precedents

20 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2006

See all articles by Frank B. Cross

Frank B. Cross

Deceased; Deceased; Deceased

Thomas A. Smith

University of San Diego School of Law

Antonio Tomarchio

Polytechnic University of Milan

Date Written: August 2006

Abstract

This study examines determinants of cohesion in the Supreme Court's reliance on precedent in the network of U.S. Supreme Court precedents. We use a database of all Supreme Court Citations and test several measures of annualized Court action as independent variables in a regression on several measures of network cohesion. We find that the magnitude of ideological decisionmaking is consistently associated with a reduction in network cohesion, suggesting that there is indeed a conflict between legal application of precedent and ideological decisions. This effect was roughly the same, though, regardless of whether the Court was conservative or liberal. We also find significant independent effects for Chief Justice eras, with the Burger Court associated with greater cohesion and the Rehnquist Court associated with lessened cohesion.

Keywords: precedent, network analysis

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Cross, Frank B. and Smith, Thomas A. and Tomarchio, Antonio, Determinants of Cohesion in the Supreme Court's Network of Precedents (August 2006). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-67; U of Texas Law, Law and Econ Research Paper No. 90; 2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=924110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.924110

Deceased

Deceased

Thomas A. Smith

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260 2318 (Phone)
619-260 2219 (Fax)

Antonio Tomarchio

Polytechnic University of Milan ( email )

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci
Milan, Milano 20100
Italy

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