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Electoral Cycles among US Courts of Appeals Judges

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  • Carlos Berdejó
  • Daniel L. Chen

Abstract

We find field evidence consistent with experimental studies that document the contexts and characteristics making individuals more susceptible to priming. Just before US presidential elections, judges on the US courts of appeals double the rate at which they dissent and vote along partisan lines. Increases are accentuated for judges with less experience and in polarized environments. During periods of national unity--wartime, for example--judges suppress dissents, especially if they have less experience or are in polarized environments. We show that the dissent rate increases gradually from 6 percent to nearly 12 percent in the quarter before an election and returns immediately to 6 percent after the election. If highly experienced professionals making common-law precedent can be politically primed, it raises questions about the perceived impartiality of the judiciary.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Berdejó & Daniel L. Chen, 2017. "Electoral Cycles among US Courts of Appeals Judges," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(3), pages 479-496.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/696237
    DOI: 10.1086/696237
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/696237
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chen, Daniel L. & Prescott, J.J., 2016. "Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants," TSE Working Papers 16-726, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Daniel Chen & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Kelly Shue, 2016. "Decision-Making under the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," NBER Working Papers 22026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court," TSE Working Papers 16-680, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    4. Daniel L. Chen & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Kelly Shue, 2016. "Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1181-1242.
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    1. Chen, Daniel L. & Prescott, J.J., 2016. "Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants," TSE Working Papers 16-726, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Cavaillé, Charlotte & Chen, Daniel L. & Van Der Straeten, Karine, 2018. "Towards a General Theory of Survey Response: Likert Scales Vs. Quadratic Voting for Attitudinal Research," TSE Working Papers 18-980, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from the U.S. Courts of Appeals are Politically Motivated," TSE Working Papers 16-721, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    4. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges," TSE Working Papers 16-681, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    5. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "This Morning's Breakfast, Last Night's Game: Detecting Extraneous Factors in Judging," IAST Working Papers 16-49, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    6. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning," TSE Working Papers 16-707, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    7. Chen, Daniel L., 2018. "Judicial Analytics and the Great Transformation of American Law," TSE Working Papers 18-974, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    8. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court," TSE Working Papers 16-680, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    9. Mindock, Maxwell R. & Waddell, Glen R., 2019. "Vote Influence in Group Decision-Making: The Changing Role of Justices' Peers on the Supreme Court," IZA Discussion Papers 12317, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Cavaillé, Charlotte & Chen, Daniel L. & Van Der Straeten, Karine, 2018. "Towards a General Theory of Survey Response: Likert Scales Vs. Quadratic Voting for Attitudinal Research," IAST Working Papers 18-93, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    11. Chen, Daniel L. & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "Government Expropriation Increases Economic Growth and Racial Inequality: Evidence from Eminent Domain," TSE Working Papers 16-693, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    12. Chen, Daniel L., 2018. "Judicial Analytics and the Great Transformation of American Law," IAST Working Papers 18-87, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).

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