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Methodological Advances And Empirical Legal Scholarship: A Note On The Cox And Miles' Voting Rights Act Study, Nancy Staudt, Tyler Vanderweele Jan 2010

Methodological Advances And Empirical Legal Scholarship: A Note On The Cox And Miles' Voting Rights Act Study, Nancy Staudt, Tyler Vanderweele

Faculty Working Papers

In this Response, we use Professors Cox and Miles' recent study of judicial decision-making to explore what is at stake when legal scholars present empirical findings without fully investigating the structural relationships of their data or without explicitly stating the assumptions being made to draw causal inferences. We then introduce a new methodology that is intuitive, easy to use, and, most importantly, allows scholars systematically to assess problems of bias and confounding. This methodology—known as causal directed acyclic graphs—will help empirical researchers to identify true cause and effect relationships when they exist and, at the same time, posit ...


Economic Trends And Judicial Outcomes: A Macrotheory Of The Court, Thomas Brennan, Lee Epstein, Nancy Staudt Jan 2010

Economic Trends And Judicial Outcomes: A Macrotheory Of The Court, Thomas Brennan, Lee Epstein, Nancy Staudt

Faculty Working Papers

In this symposium essay, we investigate the effect of economic conditions on the voting behavior of U.S. Supreme Court Justices. We theorize that Justices are akin to voters in political elections; specifically, we posit that the Justices will view short-term and relatively minor economic downturns—recessions—as attributable to the failures of elected officials, but will consider long-term and extreme economic contractions—depressions—as the result of exogenous shocks largely beyond the control of the government. Accordingly, we predict two patterns of behavior in economic-related cases that come before the Court: (1) in typical times, when the economy cycles ...


All Judges Are Political—Except When They Are Not: Acceptable Hypocrisies And The Rule Of Law, Keith J. Bybee Jan 2010

All Judges Are Political—Except When They Are Not: Acceptable Hypocrisies And The Rule Of Law, Keith J. Bybee

College of Law - Faculty Scholarship

This paper contains the introduction to the new book, All Judges Are Political—Except When They Are Not: Acceptable Hypocrisies and the Rule of Law (Stanford University Press, 2010).

The book begins with the observation that Americans are divided in their beliefs about whether courts operate on the basis of unbiased legal principle or of political interest. This division in public opinion in turn breeds suspicion that judges do not actually mean what they say, that judicial professions of impartiality are just fig leaves used to hide the pursuit of partisan purposes.

Comparing law to the practice of common courtesy ...