Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Louisiana Law Review

Publication Date

2002

Abstract

Studies consistently demonstrate that the act of judging is influenced by judges personal perspectives and experiences. For instance, research has demonstrated that empirically U.S. Supreme Court justices' behavior is motivated, in large part, by their individual attitudes or judicial philosophies.' In addition, research on the U.S. chief justice's distribution of opinion assignments also suggests that ideology plays a role inasmuch as those justices whose preferences are more closely aligned with the chief justice will be assigned to author opinions. Furthermore, empirical research indicates that the influence of ideology on judges also extends to federal appellate court judges in race relations cases.3 Transnational comparative research also suggests that the politicized conduct of judges is not exclusive to the United States.4 For instance, in a recent comparison of the judicial task of making opinion assignments within the United States, Canada (post-Charter years) and South Africa (apartheid era), the study found that chief justices in all the countries did not assign judges to panels randomly, but rather were influenced by the ideology of the sitting judge and the issues presented in the case. The study concluded that judging is a political behavior that exhibits similar influence to ideology, despite the vastly different structural legal systems for judging that can exist. Is it then possible that John Valery White's "activist insecurity" theory discussed in this volume is applicable beyond the United States context from which he develops the theory?

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