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The Supreme Court and Federal Administrative Agencies: A Resource-Based Theory and Analysis of Judicial Impact

James F. Spriggs, II
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 40, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 1122-1151
DOI: 10.2307/2111745
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111745
Page Count: 30
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The Supreme Court and Federal Administrative Agencies: A Resource-Based Theory and Analysis of Judicial Impact
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Abstract

Government bureaucracies are strategic and implement Supreme Court opinions based upon the costs and benefits of alternative policy choices. Agencies develop these expectations from prevailing resource environments and bureaucracies are more likely to establish larger policy change when resources favor the Court because the costs of not changing their policies appear larger. The amount of bureaucratic policy change due to Court opinions is a function of: (1) attributes of Supreme Court opinions--specificity of Court-ordered policy change, basis of opinions, remands, and dissents; (2) agency characteristics--policy preferences, type of proceedings, and time preferences; and (3) external actors--amicus curiae, opposing litigants, Congress, and presidents. An Ordered Probit analysis tests a multivariate model of the impact of every Supreme Court opinion reversing or remanding a federal agency decision from the 1953 through 1990 terms. Agency policy change after Court opinions is influenced by the specificity of Supreme Court opinions, agency policy preferences, agency age, and amicus curiae support.

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