April 1, 2015

Language in Supreme Court Opinions and Briefs

Adam Sean Feldman, University of Southern California, has published A Brief Assessment of Supreme Court Opinion Language. Here is the abstract.

The language of Supreme Court opinions is an often overlooked yet integral outcome of Supreme Court decision-making. Opinion language has significant implications for Supreme and lower court decisions as well as for public and social policy. This paper examines the relationship between Supreme Court opinion language and parties' merits briefs from 1946 through 2013. I developed an original dataset for this paper that includes the percent of overlapping language for each brief with its corresponding opinion as well as the attorney and law firm of record on each brief. I find factors including the types of parties, lawyers' experience in the Supreme Court, a case's importance and complexity, and the justices' ideological dispositions all have significant impacts on the amount of language opinions share with briefs.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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