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William & Mary Law Review

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Friendly Precedent, Anthony Niblett, Albert H. Yoon Apr 2016

Friendly Precedent, Anthony Niblett, Albert H. Yoon

William & Mary Law Review

This Article explores which legal precedents judges choose to support their decisions.When describing the legal landscape in a written opinion, which precedent do judges gravitate toward? We examine the idea that judges are more likely to cite “friendly” precedent. A friendly precedent, here, is one that was delivered by Supreme Court Justices who have similar political preferences to the lower court judges delivering the opinion. In this Article, we test whether a federal Court of Appeals panel is more likely to engage with binding Supreme Court precedent when the political flavor of that precedent is aligned with the political ...