April 9, 2011

An Analysis of Supreme Court Voting Alignments, 1838-2009

Christine Kexel Chabot, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and Benjamin Remy Chabot, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago & National Bureau of Economic Research, are publishing Mavericks, Moderates, or Drifters? Supreme Court Voting Alignments, 1838-2009 in the Missouri Law Review. Here is the abstract.
We introduce a new dataset recording the vote of every Justice in 18,812 Supreme Court cases decided between 1838 and 1949. We combine our data with existing datasets to examine votes in all opinions through 2009 and address previously unanswerable questions about the President’s ability to appoint Supreme Court Justices of similar ideology. The President’s odds of appointing a Justice who sides with appointees of his party have been no better than a coin flip. There is no historical correlation between divided government and the rate of appointees who vote across party lines. Indeed, the most prominent examples of failed appointments occurred when the Senate and President were of the same party. These mavericks are not lone outliers, but part of a larger pattern of appointees whose votes departed or drifted away from executive expectations with surprising frequency throughout our nation’s history.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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