The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Regulatory Commissioners and Party Politics

In 1936, Pendleton Herring asked "Does party allegiance mean anything in the functioning of our commissions?" On the basis of his extensive knowledge of individual commissioners, he answered: "Nominal party allegiance conveys nothing in itself."1 In 1955, Marver Bernstein stated, "there is little evidence that commissioners decide on major policy issues according to their party affiliations."2 No systematic quantitative study, however, seems to have been made of the presence, direction, or degree of correlation between party affiliation and decision making on the seven major regulatory agencies. It is the purpose of this chapter to offer some data relevant to that matter.


I. THE RESEARCH DESIGN 3

The sample of commissioners involved in this study consists of all the commissioners who served in the CAB, FCC, FPC, FTC, ICC, NLRB, and SEC for the years 1936, 1946, and 1956, thereby providing 20 groups of commissioners (there was no CAB in 1936) and 100 separate commissioners.4 Commissioners serving during more than one time period were used only for the first time period unless they sat on no nonunanimous adjudications in their first time period. Commissioners who served on only a small portion of the year's cases were excluded from

____________________
1
HERRING, FEDERAL COMISSIONERS: A STUDY OF THEIR CAREERS AND QUALIFICATIONS10-11 ( 1936).
2
BERNSTEIN, REGULATING BUSINESS BY REGULATORY COMMISSIONS 104 ( 1955).
3
The research design used here is similar to the research design described in more detail in Nagel, Testing Relations between Judicial Characteristics and Judicial Decision-Making, 15 W. POL. Q. 425 ( 1962) (ch. 14 supra).
4
A copy of the appendix showing the commissioners, their characteristics, and their decision scores can be obtained on request from the author.

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