Supreme Court consensus and dissent: Estimating the role of the selection screen
From 1940 to the present, the on-the-record consensus among Supreme Court justices fell precipitously relative to historical benchmarks. This paper first shows that Court consensus is closely associated with measures of consistency and stability of Court rulings. Then, an empirical model of Supreme Court consensus and dissension is estimated over 1800–2001 in which characteristics of the presidential–senatorial screen are key variables. Using OLS and controlling for several other influences, the results show that variations in consensus are linked to two components of the selection screen – the party of the confirming Senate and split party nominations and confirmations. Other than the selection screen, the size of the federal judiciary and consensus norms in the recent past are important influences. These results are also confirmed using GARCH and regime-shifting econometric methods. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006
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