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Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges

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  • Berdejo, Carlos
  • Chen, Daniel L.

Abstract

We find field evidence for what experimental studies have documented regarding the contexts and characteristics that make individuals more susceptible to priming. Just before U.S. Presidential elections, judges on the U.S. 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 ideologically polarized environments. During periods of national reconciliation—wartime, for example—judges suppress dissents, again, especially by judges with less experience and in ideologically polarized environments. We show the dissent rate increases gradually from 6% to nearly 12% in the quarter before an election and returns immediately to 6% after the election. That highly experienced professionals making common law precedent can be politically primed raises questions about the perceived impartiality of the judiciary. We cannot rule out the possibility that judges—who profess to be unbiased—are intentionally biased, which also raises the question of intentional bias of professionals who claim to be unbiased.

Suggested Citation

  • Berdejo, Carlos & Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Electoral Cycles Among U.S. Courts of Appeals Judges," IAST Working Papers 16-53, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:iastwp:31024
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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. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of (Masculine) Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court," IAST Working Papers 16-38, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST), revised Aug 2016.
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Moskowitz, Tobias J. & Shue, Kelly, 2016. "Decision-Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy: Evidence From Asylum Courts, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," IAST Working Papers 16-43, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    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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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Prescott, J.J., 2016. "Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants," IAST Working Papers 16-56, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    4. 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).
    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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