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Full-Text Articles in Law

Neglected Justices: Discounting For History, G. Edward White Mar 2009

Neglected Justices: Discounting For History, G. Edward White

Vanderbilt Law Review

The category of "neglected Justices" presupposes meaningful baselines for evaluating judicial reputations. A Justice cannot be deemed "neglected" except against the backdrop of some purported consensus about that Justice's reputation and the reputations of other Justices. Moreover, when the category of "neglected Justices" encompasses the performance of Justices who served in different time periods, it also presupposes that evaluative baselines for Justices can retain their integrity in the face of historical change and historical contingency.

This Article argues that when one discounts for history in the process of evaluating judicial reputations, the effects of history are sufficiently powerful to ...


William Johnson, The Dog That Did Not Bark?, Mark R. Killenbeck Mar 2009

William Johnson, The Dog That Did Not Bark?, Mark R. Killenbeck

Vanderbilt Law Review

The conventional wisdom is that Justice William Johnson, Jr., was the "the first dissenter." This is not literally true. The first published opinion of the Court was Georgia v. Brailsford, in which each member of the Court expressed his views seriatim. Ironically, the first to speak was the first Justice Johnson, Thomas of Maryland, whose reasoning helped create a 4-2 split that produced a number of Supreme Court firsts: the first published set of opinions, the first split decision, and the first dissent.

It was the "other" Justice Johnson, William of South Carolina, who earned the reputation as the first ...


Remaking The United States Supreme Court In The Courts' Of Appeals Image, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George Jan 2009

Remaking The United States Supreme Court In The Courts' Of Appeals Image, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

We argue that Congress should remake the United States Supreme Court in the U.S. courts' of appeals image by increasing the size of the Court's membership, authorizing panel decision making, and retaining an en banc procedure for select cases. In so doing, Congress would expand the Court's capacity to decide cases, facilitating enhanced clarity and consistency in the law as well as heightened monitoring of lower courts and the other branches. Remaking the Court in this way would not only expand the Court's decision making capacity but also improve the Court's composition, competence, and functioning.


The Politics Of Merit Selection, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2009

The Politics Of Merit Selection, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Article, I undertake an evaluation of a method of judicial selection known as "merit selection." The merit system is distinctive from the other systems of judicial selection in the powerful role it accords lawyers. Proponents of the merit system contend that it is superior to the other forms of judicial selection -- elections or appointment by elected officials -- because lawyers are more likely to select judges on the basis of "merit" and less likely to select judges on the basis of "politics" (i.e., the personal ideological preferences of judicial candidates) than are voters or elected officials. But even ...


Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich Jan 2009

Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Race matters in the criminal justice system. Black defendants appear to fare worse than similarly situated white defendants. Why? Implicit bias is one possibility. Researchers, using a well-known measure called the implicit association test, have found that most white Americans harbor implicit bias toward Black Americans. Do judges, who are professionally committed to egalitarian norms, hold these same implicit biases? And if so, do these biases account for racially disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system? We explored these two research questions in a multi-part study involving a large sample of trial judges drawn from around the country. Our results ...