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Measuring Judicial Ideology Using Law Clerk Hiring


  • Adam Bonica
  • Adam S. Chilton
  • Jacob Goldin
  • Kyle Rozema
  • Maya Sen


We present a new measure of judicial ideology based on judicial hiring behavior. Specifically, we utilize the ideology of the law clerks hired by federal judges to estimate the ideology of the judges themselves. These Clerk-Based Ideology (CBI) scores complement existing measures of judicial ideology in several ways. First, CBI scores can be estimated for judges across the federal judicial hierarchy. Second, CBI scores can capture temporal changes in ideology. Third, CBI scores avoid case selection and strategic behavior concerns that plague existing vote-based measures. We illustrate the promise of CBI scores through a number of applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam Bonica & Adam S. Chilton & Jacob Goldin & Kyle Rozema & Maya Sen, 2017. "Measuring Judicial Ideology Using Law Clerk Hiring," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 129-161.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:19:y:2017:i:1:p:129-161.

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    Cited by:

    1. Bonica, Adam & Sen, Maya, 2017. "The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Introduce Ideology into Judicial Selection," Working Paper Series rwp17-048, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. repec:gam:jlawss:v:7:y:2018:i:2:p:15-:d:141654 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Tom S. Clark & B. Pablo Montagnes & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2018. "Politics from the Bench? Ideology and Strategic Voting in the U.S. Supreme Court," CESifo Working Paper Series 7264, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions


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