Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges

Daniel L. Chen
2017 Social Science Research Network  
U.S. Courts of Appeals judges elevate their dissents for ten months prior to Presidential elections. I develop a theoretical model showing that the salience of partisan identities can explain this pattern. I link judges to their states of residence, and exploit temporal variation in the importance of a state during the electoral season. Dissents are elevated in swing states and in states that count heavily to winning the election, when these states are competitive. U.S. Senate elections further
more » ... e elections further elevate dissents. I link administrative data on case progression and frequency of campaign advertisements in judges' states of residence. Dissents occur shortly before publication, increase with monthly increases in campaign ads, and appear for cases whose legal topic, economic activity, is most heavily covered by campaign ads. Finally, I link the cases to their potential resolution in the Supreme Court. Dissents before elections appear on more marginal cases that cite discretionary miscellaneous issues and procedural (rather than substantive) arguments, which the Supreme Court appears to recognize and only partly remedy.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2816245 fatcat:si3thp7g5ja7tht4sae27lnxze