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Modeling Supreme Court Strategic Decision Making: Congressional Constraint


  • Mario Bergara
  • Barak Richman
  • Pablo T. Spiller


This paper addresses the contradictory results obtained in Segal (1997) and Spiller and Gely (1992) concerning the impact of institutional constraints on the US Supreme Court decisionmaking. by adapting the Spiller and Gely model to the data set utilized by Segal. The major findings are as follows: first, by adapting the Spiller and Gely (1992) maximum likelihood model to the Segal (1997) dataset, we find support for the hypothesis that the Court adjusts its decisions to Presidential and congressional preferences. Second, data from 1947-92 indicate that the average probability of the Court being constrained has been approximately one third. Third, we show that the results obtained in Segal (1997) are the product of biases introduced by a misspecified econometric model. Finally, the estimation highlights the usefulness of Krehbiel’s model of legislative decision-making.

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  • Mario Bergara & Barak Richman & Pablo T. Spiller, 2002. "Modeling Supreme Court Strategic Decision Making: Congressional Constraint," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1402, Department of Economics - dECON.
  • Handle: RePEc:ude:wpaper:1402

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:91:y:1997:i:01:p:28-44_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Spiller, Pablo T & Spitzer, Matthew L, 1992. "Judicial Choice of Legal Doctrines," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 8-46, March.
    3. Gely, Rafael & Spiller, Pablo T, 1990. "A Rational Choice Theory of Supreme Court Statutory Decisions with Applications to the State Farm and Grove City Cases," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 263-300, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Iaryczower, Matias & Spiller, Pablo T. & Tommasi, Mariano, 2006. "Judicial Lobbying: The Politics of Labor Law Constitutional Interpretation," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 100(01), pages 85-97, February.
    2. Mariano Tommasi & Matias Iaryczower & Pablo T. Spiller, 2004. "Judicial Lobbying: The Politics of Labor Law, Constitutional Interpretation. Argentina 1935-1998," Working Papers 73, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jun 2004.
    3. Matias J Iaryczower, 2005. "Essays in Political Influence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000945, David K. Levine.
    4. Pablo T. Spiller & Sanny Liao, 2006. "Buy, Lobby or Sue: Interest Groups' Participation in Policy Making - A Selective Survey," NBER Working Papers 12209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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