Judges and Their Audiences: A Perspective on Judicial Behavior

By Lawrence Baum | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROUPS

CHAPTER 3 EXAMINED COURT COLLEAGUES, the general public, and the other branches of government, the most familiar judicial audiences. This chapter and chapter 5 consider another set of audiences. These audiences are quite diverse, but they have two characteristics in common. First, they receive little attention from students of judicial behavior. Second, their influence stems primarily from their status as personal audiences for judges. Thus these audiences are especially relevant to an inquiry into judges' social identities and their impact on decision making.

The audiences examined in these two chapters fall into several categories. First are social groups: judges' families, friends, and acquaintances. Second are professional groups, the legal profession and its subsets. Those two types of audiences, considered in this chapter, can be expected to have the greatest impact across the judiciary as a whole. Third are policy groups, people who share ideological orientations or policy positions. The last is a different kind of audience, the news media. The media serve as intermediaries between judges and other audiences and as an object of judges' interest in themselves. Policy groups and the media are considered in chapter 5.

These audiences will be examined in somewhat different ways, but the inquiry into each has two broad purposes. First, I seek to establish that judges have a motivational basis for self-presentation to each audience, in turn giving these audiences a basis for influence over judges' choices. The second purpose is to show how taking these audiences into consideration enhances our ability to explain judicial behavior.


SOCIAL GROUPS

In October 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to carry out President Nixon's order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Instead, Richardson resigned from his position. One observer offered this explanation: “I think at the bottom of it, if Elliot fired Archie, it meant that he could never walk down Beacon Street or across Harvard Yard again and hold his head high when he met friends” (T. White 1975, 253).

This explanation captures the impact that social groups can exert on the decisions of public officials. People with whom officials have close

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