Modeling Supreme Court Strategic Decision Making: The Congressional Constraint

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 2, May 2003

Posted: 22 Aug 2003

See all articles by Mario Bergara

Mario Bergara

Universidad de la Republica (University of Uruguay) - Department of Economics

Barak D. Richman

Duke University, School of Law

Pablo T. Spiller

University of California, Berkeley - Business & Public Policy Group

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Abstract

This paper addresses the contradictory results obtained by Segal (1997) and Spiller & Gely (1992) concerning the impact of institutional constraints on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision making. By adapting the Spiller & Gely maximum likelihood model to the Segal dataset, we find support for the hypothesis that the Court adjusts its decisions to presidential and congressional preferences. Data from 1947 to 1992 indicate that the average probability of the Court being constrained has been approximately one-third. Further, we show that the results obtained by Segal are the product of biases introduced by a misspecified econometric model. We also discuss how our estimation highlights the usefulness of Krehbiel's model of legislative decision making.

Suggested Citation

Bergara, Mario and Richman, Barak D. and Spiller, Pablo T., Modeling Supreme Court Strategic Decision Making: The Congressional Constraint. Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 2, May 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=437120

Mario Bergara

Universidad de la Republica (University of Uruguay) - Department of Economics ( email )

Jose E. Rodo 1854
CP 11200 Montevideo, 11200
Uruguay

Barak D. Richman (Contact Author)

Duke University, School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7244 (Phone)
919-613-7231 (Fax)

Pablo T. Spiller

University of California, Berkeley - Business & Public Policy Group ( email )

545 Student Services Building
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-1502 (Phone)
510-642-2826 (Fax)

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