The Influence of Jurisprudential Considerations on Supreme Court Decisionmaking: A Study of Conflict Cases
Wasby, Stephen L., Justice System Journal
Stefanie A. Lindquist and David E. Klein, "The Influence of Jurisprudential Considerations on Supreme Court Decisionmaking: A Study of Conflict Cases," Law and Society Review 40 (2006): 135-61.
The authors, political scientists with law degrees, are interested in factors that may influence the U.S. Supreme Court's treatment of intercircuit conflict cases from the 1985 through 1995 terms. Such cases account for roughly one-third of the Court's docket and are disproportionately statutory rather than constitutional in nature. They examine whether the Supreme Court's decision is affected by the (relative) number of circuits on each side of the conflict; the presence of concurring and dissenting opinions in the rulings of the courts of appeals; and the relative prestige of the judges on the two "teams" of competing circuit groupings. They also consider whether the justices side with positions ideologically closer to their own and with the position supported by the solicitor general. All these factors are found to have statistically significant effects, findings that add to our knowledge of Supreme Court decision making.
This is an interesting study for its findings, but there is a terminological problem. The reader, who will have noted that the article's title speaks of "Jurisprudential Considerations," should be careful not to get sidetracked by possibly inappropriate labeling. The authors declare that their findings "provide strong evidence that Jurisprudential influences matter" for the decisions in these cases (p. …