This paper reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoning experiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 800), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretation problems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects’ cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identity-protective cognition — a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally — but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
Category Archives: Law: Everything Else
Spoiler alert: the President is exercising powers delegated to him by Congress plus a dose of prosecutorial discretion. This really isn’t as if a future President were to say, “we will not enforce the estate tax.”
Only question now is: how long before a modified limited stealth version turns up somewhere on their site or in or on their packaging.
From the company’s viewpoint it’s a logical attempt to force consumers into arbitration so that buyers’ rights are more limited than in courts. This would allow the firms to flee liability — especially class action risk — no matter how deadly their products might be.
For courts, I hope very much this rights grab will be held to be unconscionable. Prospects in the 7th circuit must, however, been seen as poor given its approval of shrinkwrap terms for both licenses and sales in ProCD v. Zeidenberg (per Easterbrook). And of course the Supreme Court has been on a pro-arbitration tear for over a decade. This, though, should be a crunch too far.
The Tampa Bay Times has a story about an “alternative spring break program” in which a group of UMiami Law students work in a mobile clinic to help undocumented long-time US residents get deferments from deportation. The story leads with my former Torts student and later research assistant:
Paulina Valanty arrived at the clinic for undocumented immigrants at St. Clement Catholic Church with more than a passing interest.
Valanty, 23, a law student at the University of Miami, used to live in the shadows, worrying about being deported.
“I was undocumented until I was 20. I was very afraid,” she said. “Any time I applied for anything and saw that little box that says ‘Social Security number,’ I was afraid. It was nerve-racking just looking at it.”
Valanty, who today is a citizen, regularly attends clinics like the one held at St. Clement on Tuesday to help young undocumented immigrants seek a change in their status.
Under a modification in federal laws last summer, undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children, brought by their parents, can apply for a deferment to avoid deportation.