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On the Reputation of State Supreme Courts

Gregory A. Caldeira
Political Behavior
Vol. 5, No. 1, Judicial Behavior: Theory and Methodology (1983), pp. 83-108
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/586349
Page Count: 26
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On the Reputation of State Supreme Courts
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Abstract

A state supreme court, in making and justifying choices, uses a variety of sources of information and authority-its own precedents, scholarly commentaries, articles in law reviews, encyclopedias, restatements, and so forth. Quite often a state supreme court appeals to the wisdom or rejects the lack of it in the decision of a sister court in order to arrive at or buttress reasoning in a particularly problematic case. These citations-construed as derogation or deference-yield very handy and nonreactive indicators of hierarchies of prestige between and among the highest appellate courts of the several states. In this paper, I develop a simple and general measure of judicial reputation, present evidence on the hierarchy of state supreme courts as of 1975, show how this ranking has changed in the last 50 years, and examine competing and sometimes complementary explanations of judicial prestige. Taken together, social diversity, judicial professionalism, political ideology, and the size of case load provide an impressive explanation of the reputation of state supreme courts.

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