Bargaining and Opinion Assignment on the U.S. Supreme Court

40 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2006

See all articles by Jeffrey R. Lax

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science; Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: October 9, 2006

Abstract

We formulate a new game-theoretic model of bargaining on the U.S. Supreme Court. In the model, a degree of monopoly power over policy endogenously accrues to the assigned writer despite an "open rule" for the other justices. We assume justices are motivated ultimately by a concern for judicial policy, but that the policy impact of an opinion depends partly on its persuasiveness, clarity, and craftsmanship - its legal quality. The effort-cost of producing a high quality opinion creates a wedge that the assignee can exploit to move an opinion from the median without provoking a winning counter-offer. We use this bargaining model as the foundation for a formal analysis of opinion assignment. Both the bargaining and opinion assignment models display rich and tractable comparative statics, allowing them to explain well-known empirical regularities as well as generate new propositions, within a unified and internally consistent framework.

Suggested Citation

Lax, Jeffrey R. and Cameron, Charles M., Bargaining and Opinion Assignment on the U.S. Supreme Court (October 9, 2006). NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-32, NYU, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 06-44, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=939622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.939622

Jeffrey R. Lax (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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