Monday, September 01, 2008

Is the 9th Circuit More Liberal Than Other Circuits?

That's the title of my APSA paper for this year. You can find a copy on SSRN.

And here's the abstract:
Is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit more liberal than other circuits? This paper looks at three possible definitions of judicial liberalism and tests whether the Ninth Circuit is more liberal, using data from the U.S. Courts of Appeals database and Giles et al. Common Space scores. First, the paper compares overall the proportions of liberal decisions in different circuits and finds that the Ninth Circuit is more liberal than most circuits, but with a fairly low probability. Second, the paper looks at the probabilities that a randomly chosen panel in the Ninth Circuit has a more liberal median than a randomly chosen panel in another circuit. Again, while the Ninth Circuit is likely to be more liberal than most other circuits, the probabilities are fairly low. Third, the paper presents estimation results from a hierarchical Bayesian model that compares the influence of judicial ideology on judicial outcomes in different circuits; it finds that this influence is lowest in the Ninth Circuit. As a result, the paper is not able to explain why the Ninth Circuit is singled out as a particularly ideological circuit.

I presented the paper as a poster this time, which I generally like - more direct conversation with attendees, no time pressure for the presentation. I also prefer going to poster presentations than panels. One doesn't have to sit through bad presentation - if a poster is badly done, you can move on - and there are more opportunities for direct conversations with presenters. My poster was located in Siberia - a board in the furthest corner of the hall, surrounded by empty boards reserved for posters that never showed up. Never mind - four people stopped by, and that's about the average size of the audience in the panels that I found interesting. Anyway, if you want to read the poster summary of the paper, check it out (careful: DIN A0 format!).