Inference, Accountability, and Gender Diversity on the Bench Open Access

Arrington, Nancy (Summer 2018)

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This dissertation project presents a framework for explaining judicial diversity that links selection institutions to diversity outcomes through a process of citizen learning and accountability. For citizens to hold elites accountable for homogeneous selections to the bench, citizens must be able to (1) make accurate inferences about whether or not bias is actually occurring, (2) accurately attribute blame for perceived bias, and (3) hold those responsible for bias accountable. Importantly, judicial selection institutions shape each of these three steps: prior beliefs in the fairness of institutions will shape how observers interpret information; institutions that affect the size of the court and turnover shape how much data citizens have with which they can update their beliefs; the presence of multiple actors/steps in selection obscures blame attribution; finally, institutions that shelter selectors from sanctions undermine accountability for diversity. I test implications of this framework using evidence from survey experiments, observational data on state supreme courts in the United States, and observational data on peak courts cross-nationally.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, 1

2. Theoretical Framework: Institutions, Accountability, and Diversity, 13

3. Empirical Evidence: Prior Beliefs in the Fairness of Institutions, 35

4. Emirical Evidence: Updating Beliefs, Blame Attribution, and Diversification, 51

5. Empirical Evidence: Accountability, 68

6. An Alternative? Slate Selection and Gender Diversity on the Bench, 92

7. Intersectionality: Minority Women State Supreme Court Judges, 118

8. Conclusion: Accountability for Diversity on the Bench, 144 

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