Top-Down and Bottom-Up Models of Judicial Reasoning
This essay offers a perspective on how social psychological insights regarding the cognitive processes of judgment can help enrich our understanding of judicial decision making. Such a focus facilitates a greater understanding of a key inquiry in the study of judicial decision making: when ideology and legal considerations will exhibit greater or lesser effects on judges’ choices. I posit a theoretical framework of judging focusing on top-down versus bottom-up reasoning processes. The theoretical perspective is primarily aimed toward explaining decision making by Supreme Court justices, but the arguments are relevant to judges at other levels of the judiciary.
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