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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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The Supreme Court, Social Psychology, and Group Formation

The Supreme Court, Social Psychology, and Group Formation

Chapter:
(p.85) 6 The Supreme Court, Social Psychology, and Group Formation
Source:
The Psychology of Judicial Decision Making
Author(s):

Neal Devins

Will Federspiel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367584.003.0006

The Justices of the Supreme Court function not just as individuals but also as members of a group. Political science models of Supreme Court decision making, however, focus on the legal and policy goals of individual Supreme Court Justices. By not taking into account what role intra-group dynamics may play in Court decision making, political science models provide an incomplete and inaccurate picture. For example, when there is an ideologically simpatico majority coalition on the Court, the preferences of the Court's median Justice often give way to intra-group preferences. In this chapter, we employ social psychology literature to examine both the importance of and the obstacles to group formation. By comparing differences in decision making of the (largely simpatico) New Dal Court and the (very diverse) Rehnquist Court, we illustrate how social psychology can contribute to an understanding of Supreme Court decision making.

Keywords:   supreme Court, appellate courts, collegiality, group decision making, intra-group dynamics, judicial decision making

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