Congress and Court, President and Precedent: External Actors' Impact on Stare Decisis Open Access

Crawford, Zackary O (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/3197xm683?locale=en
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Abstract

Although there is a growing literature suggesting that the Supreme Court of the United States is influenced by external actors, such as Congress and the President, prior scholarships has not found strong evidence that the Court is influenced when deciding to overrule one of its own precedents. Many of the most salient cases in modern U.S. jurisprudence have been overrulings of past decisions: Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda v. Arizona to name a couple. Does the Court not take into account the preferences of the President nor Congress when deciding these watershed cases? By using active signals from the other two branches rather than mere ideological disparities and party changes in government, as prior studies have done, I in this thesis seek to determine if the Court is influenced by these external branches, branches on which it is largely dependent to carry out its decisions. I assembled an original dataset of statements made by the President about the Supreme Court from 1950-2008 to test for presidential influence, and to test for a congressional impact I used an already complied Court-curbing dataset, bills that seek to strip the Court of its power. With the President the results are mixed, and for the House no intelligible impact is detected. However, the results do suggest an influence from the Senate, and thereby injuring the notion of an independent judiciary.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents
I. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………................1
II. Literature Review……………………………. ………………………………………...………. 4
A. Ideological Factors………………………………………………………………………...........4
B. Personal/ Internal Costs and Constraints…………………………………………........... 5
C. Characteristics of Cases………………………………………………………....………….....7

D. External Costs and Constraints………………………………………. ………….……........ 9
III. Research Design….........................................................................................13
A. Unit of Analysis………………………………………. .……………………….…….............13
B. Operationalization of Concepts………………………………………………………….......13
C. Independent Variables………………………. ………………………………….………....…15

Table 1.1: Four Possibilities of Joint Stances on a Given Precedent……….……..........20
D. Control Variables……………….…………………………………………….……………......23
E. Type of Analysis………………………….……………………………………………............24
F. Goal of Research Design……………….…………………………………………………...... 25
IV. Data and Analysis…………………………….…………………………………...……….….25

Figure 1.1: Overrulings: 1950-2001………………………………….…………..................25
Figure 1.2: Positive Presidential Statements: 1950-2001……………………….....….…27
Figure 1.3: Negative Presidential Statements: 1950-2001………………………........…27
Figure 1.4: Neutral Presidential Statements: 1950-2001………………………….....…..27
Figure 1.5: House Court-Curbing Bills: 1950-2001………………………………....…...…29

Figure 1.6: Senate Court-Curbing Bills: 1950-2001………………………………...…...…29
V. Results……………………………………………………………………………………....……30
A. Part I: Signals without Public Approval of External Actors……………………....……30
i. Presidential Models………………………. ……………………………………...…….........31
ii. Interpretation of Presidential Models………………………………………….…...........33

iii. Senate and House Models………………….…………………………………….….......…34
Figure 1.7: Survival Curves- Senate Agrees with Case/Court Doesn't. ..................35
Figure 1.8: Survival Curves- Senate Disagrees with Case/Court Does…..…............37
iv. Interpretation of Senate and House Models……………………………………..........38
v. Robustness of Models…………………….……………………………………………........39

Figure 1.9: Survival Curves-President Agreement .5 Range………………...............42
B. Part II: Signals with Public Approval of External Actors…………………………..…44
i. Presidential Model…………….…………………………………………………….........…44
ii. Senate Model……………………...……………………………………………………....... 46
iii. House Model…………. ………………………………………………………………......…47

VI. Discussion and Conclusion……………………….………………………………….……48
A. Difficulties and Caveats……………………………..…………………………………..…51
B. Future Research and Implications……………………….……………………………...52
VII. References…………………………………………………………………………………..55

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