The Influence of Retention Politics on Judges' Voting
36 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2007 Last revised: 29 May 2012
Date Written: 2009
This study shows that the political preferences of those responsible for retaining judges are strongly associated with judicial voting. The evidence supports the widespread belief that judges respond to political pressure in an effort to be reelected or reappointed. Using a data set of decisions in state supreme courts from 1995–98, I find that state supreme court judges who face retention decisions by Republicans tend to decide cases in accord with standard Republican policy. Judicial behavior is correspondingly liberal for judges facing retention decisions by Democrats. The results are strongest for judges facing partisan reelections. Among judges with conservative fundamental ideologies, those facing Democratic retention agents vote more liberally than those facing Republican retention agents. Similarly, judges’ voting changes when the political preferences of the retention agents change. Judges with permanent tenure and judges in their last term do not respond to the same forms of political pressure.
Keywords: judges, judicial decisionmaking
JEL Classification: K00, K4, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation