Consensus and Ideology at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

Sofia Amaral Garcia (DIW Berlin)
Lucia dalla Pellegrina (Universita' Milano Bicocca)
Nuno Garoupa (Texas A&M University School of Law)

Abstract : This paper sets up a model for estimating the extent to which judicial voting behavior is the result of a norm of consensus when there is heterogeneity in the cost of dissenting across different areas of law. We derive a two-stage model to test this hypothesis on data from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) in the period 1998-2011. The first-stage estimates political ideology from sincere voting and from there a proxy for dissent suppression (propensity towards consensus) is constructed. The second-stage uses a hierarchical model of voting to test for heterogeneity in the cost of dissenting across different areas of law (i.e., devolution, domestic and Commonwealth appeals). We find that the intensity to suppress dissent is stronger in devolution cases, which are those with a higher political content.

The Impact of Law and Economics on American Justice

Daniel L. Chen (Toulouse School of Economics, IAST, LWP, HLS)
Elliott Ash (Princeton U. U of Warwick, Dept. of Economics)
Suresh Naidu (Columbia University, Dept. of Economics)

Abstract : This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the effects of economics on moral decision-making and legal thought using the universe of opinions in U.S. Circuit Courts from 1891 and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions linked to judge identity. We use attendance in a controversial economics training program that 40% of federal judges attended by 1990, a policy change giving judges more sentencing discretion, random assignment of judges to control for court- and case-level factors, an exogenous seating network from random panel composition to trace the spread and impact of new ways of moral reasoning, and ordering of cases within Circuit to identify memetic phrases that move across legal topics. We find that judges who use law and economics language vote for and author conservative verdicts in economics cases and are more opposed to government regulation and criminal appeals. After attending Henry Manne's economics training program, judges use economics language and render conservative verdicts in economics cases and reject criminal appeals. Manne economics training is more predictive of these decisions than political party. Manne judges render 20% harsher criminal sentences after U.S. v. Booker allowed more sentencing discretion. They also impact criminal appeals verdicts when not authoring the opinion. Judges exposed to Manne peers increase their use of economics language in subsequent opinions. “Deterrence”, “capital”, and “law and economics” move across legal topics.

Judicial Tenure and the Slowing of Legal Development in England, 1600-1800

Peter Murrell (University of Maryland)

Abstract : Conventional wisdom on English development confers iconic status on the Act of Settlement, emphasizing the clause mandating secure tenure for judges. But the Act's effect on tenure was partial, affording the opportunity to empirically identify the effect of tenure on judicial decisions. The empirics uses two new databases, one on the biographies of judges, the other recording all citations to earlier cases made in the English Reports. The paper estimates the effect of tenure on citations, a measure of judicial quality. Several strategies aid identification. Explanatory variables capture both judges' human capital and the amount of litigation reaching specific courts at specific times. The court-year panel makes difference-in-differences possible. Two different sets of instrumental-variable estimates are generated. Tenure has a strong, significant, and deleterious effect on the quality of the decisions of associate judges. Tenure has no effect on the quality of the decisions of chief judges. Perhaps England would have developed earlier had it not been for one of the monuments of English constitutional law.