Judicial Ideology, Precedent Vitality and the Decision to Overturn Circuit Court Precedent Open Access

Luby, Sophia Anne (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/41687j063?locale=en
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Abstract

This study examines the judicial behavior of Court of Appeals judges sitting en banc. The role of ideology and precedent vitality is examined in regards to the decision to sustain or overrule circuit court precedent. Judicial ideology is measured by GHP scores and the party of the appointing president to determine the ideological distance between a precedent and Court of Appeals judges sitting en banc. The en banc panel and the individual judge are used as the units of analysis for this research. I find support for the hypothesis that ideology matters in judicial decision making; additionally, the ideological distance between a precedent and an en banc judge influences the decision to overturn precedent. Additionally, statistically significant evidence was discovered to indicate the directionality of ideological distance affected the decision to overturn precedent. However, the analysis of directionality of ideological distance did not produce the expected pattern of results. In regards to precedent vitality, the findings indicate that precedent vitality does have a significant impact on the judicial behavior of Court of Appeals judges.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction............................................................................................1

II. The U.S. Courts of Appeals in the Federal System.........................................3

III. Models of Judicial Behavio........................................................................5

a. Evidence of Models at Supreme Court..................................................6

b. Evidence of Models at Courts of Appeals..............................................8

c. Models and the Maintenance of Precedent...........................................11

IV. Statements of Hypotheses......................................................................12

V. Research Design.....................................................................................14

VI. Measurement of Variables and Data Collection.............................................15

VII. Analysis..............................................................................................20

a. Descriptive Analysis.........................................................................20

b. By Case Analysis.............................................................................23

c. By Judge Analysis............................................................................32

VIII. Conclusion..........................................................................................38

IX. References............................................................................................41

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