In this study, we assess the impact of attitudinal and jurisprudential factors on the Supreme Court's resolution of intercircuit conflicts. In doing so, we depart from earlier efforts to assess the impact of legal factors that conceptualize law as an external constraint. Instead, we view jurisprudential considerations in terms of the justices' efforts to adopt the most legally persuasive position in light of accepted methods of legal reasoning. Our analyses reveal that the justices are (1) more likely to follow the reasoning process adopted by the majority of circuits involved in the conflict, (2) less likely to adopt the conflict position marred by contrary dissents and concurrences in the circuit court opinions, and (3) more likely to adopt the conflict position endorsed by prestigious circuit court judges. Our findings suggest that jurisprudential considerations, as well as attitudinal concerns, affect the justices' decisionmaking processes in a substantial minority of cases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science