Category Archives: Courts

Do Policy Messengers Matter?

If you download this paper, it will change your life — I mean, it will if you believe in the whole ‘Butterfly Effect’ phenomenon …. My co-author, Scott Boddery, recently posted our paper “Do Policy Messengers Matter? Majority Opinion Writers as Policy Ques in Public ‘Buy In’ of Supreme Court Decisions “ on SSRN. Here’s the abstract:

To what degree does the identity of the majority opinion writer affect a citizen’s level of agreement with a U.S. Supreme Court decision? Using a survey experiment, we manipulate the majority opinion authors of two Supreme Court cases between two randomly populated groups. By investigating ideological incongruence between a case’s policy output and the majority opinion author we are able to empirically test the extent to which individuals are willing to agree with a Court opinion that is authored by an ideologically similar justice even though the decision cuts against their self-identified ideological policy preferences. Our study provides insight on the extent to which policy “buy in” by citizens is affected by policy cues represented by the policy messenger of a political institution. We find that, although individuals generally give deference to the Supreme Court’s decisions, a messenger effect indeed augments the specific level of support a given case receives.

The ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ of Losing in Court

Ben Depoorter (UC Hastings Law) has recently posted “The Upside of Losing” on SSRN (forthcoming in Columbia Law Review) — arguing that not all losses in court are necessarily a loss, politically. Here’s the abstract: Continue reading

Just for fun – What journals do courts cite?

With academics increasingly coming under pressure to demonstrate that scholarship has real world impact, citation to government decisions seems informative. I took a few minutes to assemble some statistics on court citation to various journals. If you are not familiar with this resource, Washington & Lee Law Library offers an online tool to assess journals’ impact – both in academic writing and in court citation (i.e. how often has a journal’s articles been cited by a state or federal court). The tool provides information on a wide variety of legal journals and some from other disciplines. I’ve assembled below cumulative number of times various journals that might be familiar to political scientists are cited by state and federal courts from 2003-20011. As might be expected, most of the journals are law oriented. If you’re interested in this sort of information, then you can conduct your own analysis on their website. It even allows you to download your findings into an excel spreadsheet. I do not portray this analysis as being perfect- just my quick take. So, as the picture above suggests – take it all with a grain of salt. For comparison, Harvard Law Review has 2500+ for the time period. Continue reading

Surveillance dangers and some suggestions

Neil Richards (Washington University Law) has posted “The Dangers of Surveillance” on SSRN. It discusses some concrete, but perhaps overlooked, harms posed by excessive surveillance – both government and private. It also offers a number of guiding principles for assessing surveillance law. The abstract is available below the fold.

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Epstein awarded Guggenheim; Martin named Chair

I’m sure that they won’t mind sharing a post :-)

Lee Epstein (University of Southern California) was recently awarded a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. You can read more about it here.

Andrew Martin (Washington University) was recently named the Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science. Read more about it here.

The relative difficulty of state bar exams

On The Faculty Lounge they post on the relative difficulty of state bar exams and states’ ‘cut points’ for passing (using  a standardized scale). You can see more on state bar exam difficulty here and here. Personally, I’m always amazed at how many people pass the bar exam on the first try (especially in the harder states). The pressure involved with the bar exam and the speed at which you have to answer questions are hard to convey to those who haven’t done it. Check out the state rankings below. Continue reading

Yes, we can indict a ham sandwich. But, *should* we able to indict a ham sandwich?

Glenn Reynolds (University of Tennessee Law School) has posted a manuscript, “Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime,” on SSRN. It addresses an important and understudied topic – prosecutorial discretion in charging. Here’s the abstract: Continue reading