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Title: Broadening Diversity on the Bench: Voting Behavior and Panel Effects on the United States Courts of Appeals
Authors: Hu, Diane
Advisors: Massey, Douglas
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This thesis seeks to determine the extent to which personal characteristics of judges, namely race, gender, religion, and prior prosecutorial experience, affect individual judicial votes and panel decisions on the United States Courts of Appeals. While these characteristics do not have a significant effect on the way an individual votes, I find that there are strong panel effects, in which a judge influences how the two other judges vote on a panel, which then affects the final outcome. Controlling for other judge and case characteristics, I find that the presence of at least one female or black judge on a panel increases the likelihood of a more liberal decision across all cases. However, I also find that female and black judges have a less influential effect in specific gender- or race-related cases (such as employment discrimination), which sheds light on other social and psychological factors of panel decision-making. While the results for religion are mixed, I find that the presence of Christians increases the probability of a conservative decision in both non-religion and religion cases. Finally, as I predicted, the presence of a past prosecutor on a panel for a criminal case decreases the likelihood that the final ruling is liberal (in favor of the defendant). These results allow us to critically examine the pursuit of judicial diversity and the federal judicial appointment process as a whole.
Extent: 92 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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