June 14, 2006
Are Judges Political? An Empirical Analysis
Are Judges Political?
An Empirical Analysis of the Federal Judiciary
Cass R. Sunstein, David Schkade, Lisa M. Ellman, and Andres Sawicki
Brookings Institution Press 2006
Trade Cloth, 0-8157-8234-9, $24.95
From the blurb:
Americans are engaged in an intense debate about their judicial branch of government. Some people worry about "activist" judges who are "legislating from the bench," making an end run around electoral democracy, while others feel that the judiciary is properly protecting fundamental rights. How do the political leanings of judges affect their activity on the bench? To put it another way, Are Judges Political? And to what degree? This provocative book produces real answers by looking at what judges actually do, injecting fact and analysis into a discussion that is all too often overwhelmed by sound bites and ideological howling.
Are Judges Political? injects precision into an impassioned but often impressionistic discussion by quantifying how ideology affects legal judgments. Interestingly, even in the most controversial cases, Republican and Democratic appointees agree more than they disagree. When they do disagree, however, the analysis of who votes how (and under what circumstances) can be quite illuminating and tells us a great deal about human nature as well as politics and justice in America.
Are Judges Political? finds that judges do adhere to the law, but where the law is not plain, political convictions clearly play a role. And when like-minded judges sit together, they may well go to extremes.
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