Supreme Court Appointments as a Move-the-Median Game

29 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2006 Last revised: 23 May 2014

See all articles by Keith Krehbiel

Keith Krehbiel

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Date Written: July 1, 2006


A three-stage model isolates conditions under which an executive appointment to a collective choice body, such as a court or a regulatory agency, has an immediate bearing on policy. The model strikes a balance between previous formal models that predict either excessive gridlock or excessive policy responsiveness as a consequence of the politics of appointments. I test the model using approximately four decades of data on U.S. Supreme Court appointments. Two hypotheses summarize the unique predictions of the model and are strongly corroborated. A third, less distinctive hypothesis about strategic judicial retirements is weakly supported.

Suggested Citation

Krehbiel, Keith, Supreme Court Appointments as a Move-the-Median Game (July 1, 2006). Stanford GSB Research Paper No. 1942, Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 329, Available at SSRN: or

Keith Krehbiel (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

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