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The Psychology of Judicial Decision Making$
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David E. Klein and Gregory Mitchell

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195367584

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367584.001.0001

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Persuasion in the Decision Making of U.S. Supreme Court Justices

(p.57) 4 Persuasion in the Decision Making of U.S. Supreme Court Justices
The Psychology of Judicial Decision Making

Lawrence S. Wrightsman

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that persuasion is more effective in influencing votes in certain types of cases than others. A distinction is made between ideological (i.e., hot-button issue) cases and non-ideological cases. Using data from several recent Supreme Court terms, the chapter shows that latency of the decision, frequency of unanimous votes, and behavior in oral arguments are affected by type of case. In oral arguments, justices' eventual votes can be predicted from the nature and frequency of their questions, to a greater degree in ideological cases than in non-ideological cases. Thus it is concluded that both the legal model and the attitudinal model of judicial decision making are applicable, depending on the type of case.

Keywords:   persuasion, ideological versus non-ideological cases, criterial referents, automatic responses, legal model of judicial decision making, attitudinal model of judicial decision making, oral arguments, office of Solicitor General, "More-questions-to-loser" rule, pressures toward uniformity, dissenting decisions

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