Hierarchical and collegial politics on the U.S. courts of appeals

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Do hierarchical politics in the federal judiciary shape collegial politics on the U.S. Courts of Appeals and thus influence judicial voting and case outcomes? I develop a model in which the political control of the dual layer of hierarchy above three-judge panels - full circuits and the Supreme Court - affects the ability of a single Democratic or Republican judge on a three-judge panel to influence two colleagues from the opposing party. The theory predicts that panel majorities should be more strongly influenced by a single judge of the opposing party - a "counter-judge" - when that judge is aligned with the Supreme Court. Examining thousands of judicial votes in multiple issue areas, I show that the effect of adding a counter-judge to a panel is indeed asymmetric, and varies based on hierarchical alignment. The interaction of hierarchical and collegial politics increases the Supreme Court's control of the judicial hierarchy and helps promote the rule of law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-361
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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