Chief Judges: The Limits of Attitudinal Theory and Possible Paradox of Managerial Judging

By George, Tracey E.; Yoon, Albert H. | Vanderbilt Law Review, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Chief Judges: The Limits of Attitudinal Theory and Possible Paradox of Managerial Judging


George, Tracey E., Yoon, Albert H., Vanderbilt Law Review


Chief judges wield power. Among other things, they control judicial assignments, circulate petitions to their colleagues, and manage internal requests and disputes. When exercising this power, do chiefs seek to serve as impartial court administrators or do they attempt to manufacture case outcomes that reflect their political beliefs? Because chiefs exercise their power almost entirely outside public view, no one knows. No one sees the chief judge change the composition of a panel before it is announced or delay consideration of a petition for en banc review or favor the requests of some colleagues while ignoring those of others. Chiefs do exercise one very public power, however. Chiefs decide when to step down and whether to remain in active service. Because their dates of departure determine who will succeed them, they also decide who their successors will be. If chiefs are impartial administrators, their departure decisions should not lead systematically to successors who share their political beliefs; if, by contrast, they are purely political actors, their departures should be timed to ensure like-minded successors. Relying on a database that includes all chief circuit judges, we test a strategic departure theory of chief judge tenure. We find little evidence of political motivations. We find instead that chief judges serve shorter terms as dockets grow larger; thus, overwhelming workloads may prevent judges from using the office to further policy goals.

Grutter v. Bollinger is familiar to American lawyers, academics, and law students as the Supreme Court decision allowing the consideration of race in law school admissions.1 Grutter1 s procedural history is nearly as noteworthy as its substantive holding. The University of Michigan Law School, after losing in federal district court,2 appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.3 Three Democratic appointees were assigned to the panel: Judges Karen Nelson Moore and Martha Craig Daughtrey, who had heard an earlier interlocutory appeal, and Chief Judge Boyce Martin, who replaced the designated district judge from the earlier panel.4 The white applicant requested that the entire court, rather than a panel, hear the case.5 The Sixth Circuit granted the en banc petition.6 A closely divided en banc court reversed the district court in an opinion authored by Martin.7

Normally, that is all we would know about the process by which the Sixth Circuit decided the case. But something highly unusual happened. Judge Danny Boggs included with his dissenting opinion a five-page procedural appendix detailing intracourt machinations and accusing the Chief Judge of manipulating procedures to affect the outcome.8 Boggs alleged that Martin violated circuit rules by assigning himself, rather than a randomly selected judge, to the three-judge panel.9 This assertion alone does not seem very significant-the case was decided, after all, by the en banc court. Boggs's more pointed accusation was that Martin engineered the en banc voting process to ensure a court balanced in favor of the law school. When the white student petitioned for an en banc hearing, eleven active judges sat on the Sixth Circuit; two of those judges had expressed their intent to take senior status.10 Martin circulated the petition after both judges had taken senior status, making them ineligible to participate.11 Judge Alice Batchelder responded by writing an internal memo to her colleagues contending that Martin delayed the vote on the white student's request for a hearing en banc until judges opposed to affirmative action took senior status.12 Boggs's dissent made public those accusations,' a fact that one colleague called "shameful,"13 and another "embarrassing and incomprehensible."14

Accusations like those made in Grutter are consistent with the attitudinal theory of judicial decisionmaking. Attitudinal theory proffers that judges are political actors who make decisions that will maximize their policy preferences. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Chief Judges: The Limits of Attitudinal Theory and Possible Paradox of Managerial Judging
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.