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Observing Supreme Court Oral Argument: A Biosocial Approach

James N. Schubert, Steven A. Peterson, Glendon Schubert and Stephen Wasby
Politics and the Life Sciences
Vol. 11, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 35-51
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4235832
Page Count: 17
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Observing Supreme Court Oral Argument: A Biosocial Approach
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Abstract

Supreme Court oral argument (OA) is one of many face-to-face settings of political interaction. This article describes a methodology for the systematic observation and measurement of behavior in OA developed in a study of over 300 randomly selected cases from the 1969-1981 terms of the U.S. Supreme Court. Five sources of observation are integrated into the OA database at the speaking turn level of analysis: the actual text of verbal behavior; categorical behavior codes; aspects of language use and speech behavior events; electro-acoustical measurement of voice quality; and content analysis of subject matter. Preliminary data are presented to illustrate the methodology and its application to theoretical concerns of the research project.

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