Evolution of Conflict in the Courts of Appeals
33 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 25, 2015
Conflicts between the Courts of Appeals are of central importance to the American judiciary. When circuits split, federal law is applied differently in different parts of the country. It has long been known that the existence of a circuit split is the best predictor of Supreme Court review, but data availability has constrained understanding of circuit splits to this fact. In this paper, we explore the “life cycle” of an intercircuit split. We analyze an original dataset that comprises a sample of conflicts between Courts of Appeals that existed between 2005 and 2013, including both conflicts the Supreme Court resolved and conflicts it has not yet resolved. We show how long a conflict exists before it is resolved and how many go unresolved altogether, which conflicts are resolved soonest, and how a conflict grows across circuits.
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