July 22, 2015

The Legal Art (?) of Being Disagreeable

Justin Wedeking and Michael Zilis, both of the University of Kentucky Department of Political Science, have published The Use of Disagreeable Language in Supreme Court Opinions. Here is the abstract.
We explore the factors that lead Supreme Court justices to integrate disagreeable language into their written, signed opinions. We suggest that disagreeableness is primarily a product of two broad sets of factors: position taking and policy influencing. Examining judicial opinions from 1946-2011 using three different text-based measures of negative language, we find consistent evidence that justices are more likely to draw on disagreeable language for both policy-based reasons as well as position taking. Moreover, we find that several predictors are robust across majority, dissenting, and concurring opinions. Furthermore, to explore one consequence of opinion language, we show that disagreeable language is negatively related to the size of majority coalitions, suggesting important implications for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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