Supreme Court decision-making: an analysis of the court's criminal docket and the role of ideology
The academic literature is rife with articles discussing the Supreme Court's criminal jurisprudence; however, what quickly becomes clear from the literature is the disconnect between legal academics' understanding of the Court and political scientists' understanding of the Court. This thesis seeks to add to the small body of research that has attempted to bridge the gap by combining the methods of political science with a more legalistic understanding of Court behavior. This thesis aims to test the hypothesis that whether the Court hearing a case is generally viewed as "liberal" or "conservative" says very little about the percentage of cases coming out favorably to a criminal defendant over the long run, when other factors are controlled for. However, in contrast to this hypothesis, the results of the probit model found that the ideology of the Supreme Court majority is indeed an important factor in its decision-making in criminal cases. This suggests that, as a policy matter, the resources devoted to the confirmation process by interest groups represents a sensible strategy.
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