Practical Appeals: The Influence of Judicial Ideology on the Decision of Litigants to Appeal Open Access

Atsegbua, Joy-Annette (2015)

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Scholars of judicial politics often use judges as the subject of analysis when investigating what influences judicial outcomes. Because of the vital role litigants play by providing cases for judges to decide, understanding how litigants behave within the judicial system is beneficial for a more comprehensive understanding of judicial outcomes. This study will examine the decision of the litigant to pursue an appeal of the decision of a Court of Appeals three-judge panel to the Supreme Court or the full circuit. I hypothesize that the decision by the litigant of where to appeal is grounded primarily in the ideological preferences of the higher courts, because the litigant is concerned with reversing the decision of the three-judge panel - which is often reflective of the panel's ideological preferences. Using Court of Appeals data from 1970-2002 and the known ideological preferences of judicial actors, I predict the appeal decision of litigants with a model functioning only on ideology and compare these results to the actual decisions of the litigants. The results of this study do not provide support for the expectation that litigants appeal using ideology as their main consideration.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

The Structure of the Federal Courts of General Jurisdiction 3

Pathways of Appeal 6

The Decision to Grant Review 8

The Decision to Seek an Appeal 14

Statement of Hypotheses 16

Description of Data 19

Analysis 26

Conclusion 36

References 39

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