Hinkle: Legal Constraint in the U.S. Courts of Appeals

Professor Dr. Rachael K. Hinkle of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County has posted Legal Constraint in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

Here is the abstract:

Existing evidence of law constraining judicial behavior is subject to serious endogeneity concerns. Federal circuit courts offer an opportunity to gain leverage on this problem. A precedent is legally binding within its own circuit, but only persuasive in other circuits. Legal constraint exists to the extent that use of binding precedents is less influenced by ideology than use of persuasive precedents. Focusing on search and seizure cases, I construct a choice set of all published circuit court cases from 1953 to 2010 that cite the Fourth Amendment. I model the use of precedent in cases from 2000 to 2010. The results provide evidence that both the decision about which cases to cite and which cited precedents to treat negatively are constrained by the legal doctrine of stare decisis. Each precedent in the dataset is both binding and persuasive in turn which substantially mitigates endogeneity concerns.

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