ation. Here, I have used three different measures of state court performance: reversal rates of lower court decisions, levels of intracourt disagreement and judicial activism scores. I believe that some of the differences among the courts may be accounted for by some of the variables contained in the model presented in Chapter 1. Contextual variables, such as political culture, the state's socioeconomic diversity, internal unity and party competition, may account for the levels of dissent and reversals. Elements of this theory are supported by the work of Jaros and Canon ( 1971). Institutional variables, particularly the presence or absence of an intermediate appellate court, also may influence dissents and reversal rates. The importance of intermediate appellate courts in the state judiciary has been noted by Davies ( 1982), Kagan et al. ( 1978) and Atkins and Glick ( 1976). Generally, intermediate appellate courts should be associated with increased dissents and reversals by the state court of last resort. The findings contained in this chapter lend support to this theory. Finally, the personal characteristics and interactions among the justices also may help to explain dissent rates. Jaros and Canon ( 1971) have shown that social background characteristics of state supreme court justices have an impact on dissent rates. I have suggested some additional factors to be considered in examining dissent. First, maverick justices may account for a disproportionate number of dissents and concurrences. Maverick justices feel compelled to produce extra opinion even when these opinions seem to add little to the exposition of the law. I can only assume that this behavior is a function of the personality of the justices. Also, the presence of a maverick justice on a court will be a random occurrence. Second, state supreme courts may operate under different decision- making norms. Fenno ( 1973) work on congressional committees may provide some guidance in the development of theory of decision-making norms on state supreme courts.
I have done little in the chapter to explain variations in judicial activism. The next chapter examines the work of the six courts in some detail and suggest some reasons for variations in judicial activism.
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Publication information: Book title: The Role of State Supreme Courts in the New Judicial Federalism. Contributors: Susan P. Fino - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 85.
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