How do we know whether judges of different backgrounds are "biased"? We review the substantial political science literature on judicial decision-making, paying close attention to how judges' demographics and ideology can influence or structure their decision-making. As the research shows, characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender can sometimes predict judicial decision-making in limited kinds of cases; however, the literature also suggests that these are by far less important in shaping or predicting outcomes than is ideology (or partisanship), which in turn correlates closely with gender, race, and ethnicity. This leads us to conclude that assuming judges of different backgrounds are biased because they rule differently is questionable: given that the application of the law rarely provides a ``correct'' answer, it is no surprise that judges' decisions vary according to their personal backgrounds and, more importantly, according to their ideology.
Do Justices telegraph their preferences during oral arguments? We demonstrate that Justices implicitly reveal their leanings during oral arguments, even before arguments and deliberations have concluded. Specifically, we extract the emotional content of over 3,000 hours of audio recordings spanning 30 years of oral arguments before the Court. Using only the level of emotional arousal in each of the Justices’ voices during these arguments, as measured by their vocal pitch, we are able to accurately predict many of their eventual votes, while using none of the text or substantive content. These predictions are statistically and practically significant and robust to including a range of controls. Our findings suggest that mannerisms that may be subconscious, such as vocal pitch, carry information that basic legal, political, and textual information do not, and can be used to predict the decisions of even elite political actors.
TanielIf we're talking about expanding the Court, we may as well talk about bigger institutional problem of having ppl performing political tasks but serving lifelong terms that last an eternity (and begin at times decided either by randomness or by deliberate political calculations). t.co/WfTNtQgmQH
JoshuaSGoodmanThis is terrible. It's hard to overstate how important Alan Krueger has been to modern labor economics. His work has deeply influenced the debate on so many important issues. And, most importantly, he seemed truly focused on using economics for the public good. He'll be missed. t.co/mHGpCRJQQd
BLMcKeanPlease spread the word! @osupolisci is hosting a conference for undergrads from historically underrepresented groups to present research and learn more about pursuing graduate studies - travel and meals covered! Applications due 4/12. More info at t.co/IIjyOMSLLWt.co/gREN14lgpe