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Presidential Effects on Criminal Justice Policy in the Lower Federal Courts: The Reagan Judges

C. K. Rowland, Donald Songer and Robert A. Carp
Law & Society Review
Vol. 22, No. 1 (1988), pp. 191-200
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053566
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053566
Page Count: 10
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Presidential Effects on Criminal Justice Policy in the Lower Federal Courts: The Reagan Judges
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Abstract

Scholarly and media accounts have portrayed the Reagan administration as strongly committed to the selection of judges who are ideologically in tune with the president. Interviews with key congressional participants indicate that Reagan has received substantial home-state support for his ideological selection criteria. These findings lead to the prediction that Reagan judges on the lower federal courts will be substantially less supportive of criminal defendants than will Nixon or Carter appointees. Analysis of each appointment cohort's criminal justice decisions confirms this expectation for the district courts and courts of appeals. Indeed, the degree of polarization between the Reagan and Carter cohorts is unprecedented. However, this difference was due to the unexpectedly high support for criminal defendants exhibited by Carter appointees as well as the predicted low support provided by Reagan judges.

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