Scholars of judicial politics have long speculated that the factors influencing judicial decision making operate to varying degrees at different levels of the judicial hierarchy. We investigate what we term the "hierarchy postulate": that the effect of judges policy preferences on their decisions increases as one moves up the judicial hierarchy. Using original data on cases decided at each level of U.S. federal courts, which allow us to evaluate the impact of policy preferences on judicial decision making while holding constant the influence of case-specific factors, we find robust support for the contention that ideological and policy-related influences on federal judges decisions are larger at higher levels of the judicial hierarchy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science