Confirmation bias in the United States supreme court judicial database

Anna Harvey, Michael J. Woodruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We ask whether the widely used direction of decision and direction of vote variables in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) are contaminated by confirmation bias, or have been affected by expectations about the likely effects of judicial preferences on case outcomes. Using a sample of generally comparable cases, we find evidence that the assignment of issue codes to these cases, codes that govern the subsequent assignment of "direction" to the Court's judgments, is conditional on both case disposition and the known preferences of the deciding court, in the direction predicted by the hypothesis of confirmation bias. We also find that the USSCJD direction variables overstate the effect of judicial preferences and understate the effect of congressional preferences on case outcomes, relative to objectively coded measures of the Court's judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-460
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Fingerprint

Supreme Court
judgment or sentence
trend
disposition
voter
Confirmation bias
Data base
evidence
Assignment
Vote
Disposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Cite this

Confirmation bias in the United States supreme court judicial database. / Harvey, Anna; Woodruff, Michael J.

In: Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 29, No. 2, 04.2013, p. 414-460.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{d49f0b198b76414ca57fc8ce723aded9,
title = "Confirmation bias in the United States supreme court judicial database",
abstract = "We ask whether the widely used direction of decision and direction of vote variables in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) are contaminated by confirmation bias, or have been affected by expectations about the likely effects of judicial preferences on case outcomes. Using a sample of generally comparable cases, we find evidence that the assignment of issue codes to these cases, codes that govern the subsequent assignment of {"}direction{"} to the Court's judgments, is conditional on both case disposition and the known preferences of the deciding court, in the direction predicted by the hypothesis of confirmation bias. We also find that the USSCJD direction variables overstate the effect of judicial preferences and understate the effect of congressional preferences on case outcomes, relative to objectively coded measures of the Court's judgments.",
author = "Anna Harvey and Woodruff, {Michael J.}",
year = "2013",
month = "4",
doi = "10.1093/jleo/ewr003",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "29",
pages = "414--460",
journal = "Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization",
issn = "8756-6222",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Confirmation bias in the United States supreme court judicial database

AU - Harvey, Anna

AU - Woodruff, Michael J.

PY - 2013/4

Y1 - 2013/4

N2 - We ask whether the widely used direction of decision and direction of vote variables in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) are contaminated by confirmation bias, or have been affected by expectations about the likely effects of judicial preferences on case outcomes. Using a sample of generally comparable cases, we find evidence that the assignment of issue codes to these cases, codes that govern the subsequent assignment of "direction" to the Court's judgments, is conditional on both case disposition and the known preferences of the deciding court, in the direction predicted by the hypothesis of confirmation bias. We also find that the USSCJD direction variables overstate the effect of judicial preferences and understate the effect of congressional preferences on case outcomes, relative to objectively coded measures of the Court's judgments.

AB - We ask whether the widely used direction of decision and direction of vote variables in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) are contaminated by confirmation bias, or have been affected by expectations about the likely effects of judicial preferences on case outcomes. Using a sample of generally comparable cases, we find evidence that the assignment of issue codes to these cases, codes that govern the subsequent assignment of "direction" to the Court's judgments, is conditional on both case disposition and the known preferences of the deciding court, in the direction predicted by the hypothesis of confirmation bias. We also find that the USSCJD direction variables overstate the effect of judicial preferences and understate the effect of congressional preferences on case outcomes, relative to objectively coded measures of the Court's judgments.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84876351363&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84876351363&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/jleo/ewr003

DO - 10.1093/jleo/ewr003

M3 - Article

VL - 29

SP - 414

EP - 460

JO - Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

JF - Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

SN - 8756-6222

IS - 2

ER -