Ash, Elliott, Chen, Daniel L. and Lu, Wei (2018) Motivated Reasoning in the Field: Partisanship in Precedent, Prose, Vote, and Retirement in U.S. Circuit Courts, 1800-2013. TSE Working Paper, n. 18-976, Toulouse

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Identification Number : 10.2139/ssrn.3205116


We document motivated reasoning among U.S. judges. We employ a supervised learning approach to measure partisanship of text and citations of circuit court opinions. We find persistent but low partisanship of language overall, with the notable exception of civil rights and First Amendment, which liberals and conservatives have mobilized in certain periods. Citations display a significant level of partisanship and increase over time. We also document an increase in vote partisanship–dissenting only against judges appointed by the opposing party’s president. We show an increase in partisan retirement–strategically timing retirements that sclerotize the judiciary and stymie democratic churn. Finally, we show that motivated reasoning grows with judicial experience, but not age, and is more pronounced for Republican appointees.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Language: English
Date: June 2018
Place of Publication: Toulouse
Divisions: TSE-R (Toulouse)
Institution: Université Toulouse Capitole
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2018 11:11
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2021 13:37
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