SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Kassow, B., Songer, D. R., & Fix, M. P. (2012). The influence of precedent on state supreme courts. Political Research Quarterly65, 372–384.

Abstract: Studies of policy making by courts need to examine the actual policy adopted in the majority opinion rather than studying votes. The authors examine the responsiveness of state supreme courts to precedents announced by the US Supreme Court by examining their treatment of the precedents in their opinions, testing the utility of precedent vitality versus the impact of ideological preferences. They find that the vitality of Supreme Court precedent is a strong predictor of the way in which the precedent is treated by state courts, even after controlling for ideological distance and institutional features of state court systems.

Journal Article 2: Pacelle, R. L. Jr., Marshall, B. W., & Curry, B. W. (2007). Keepers of the covenant or platonic guardians? Decision making on the U.S. Supreme Court. American Politics Research35, 694–725.

Abstract: How do the justices of the Supreme Court make their decisions? How does the Supreme Court of the United States make its decisions? The answer to these questions may not be the same. In studying judicial decision making, there has been a disconnection between individual and institutional levels of analysis. Lifetime tenure insulates individual justices and permits them to act on their substantive preferences. At the same time, the Court lacks the “sword and purse” and must rely on the other branches to fund or implement its directives. This study develops an integrative model to explain Supreme Court decision making. Using constitutional civil liberties and civil rights cases in the 1953 to 2000 period, conditions favorable to the attitudinal model, we find that institutional decision making is a function of attitudinal, strategic, and legal factors.