How the supreme court alters opinion language to evade congressional review

Ryan J. Owens, Justin Wedeking, Patrick C. Wohlfarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We argue that actors can attempt to shield their policy choices from unfavorable review by crafting them in a manner that will increase the costs necessary for supervisory institutions to review them. We apply this theory to the US Supreme Court and demonstrate how justices strategically obfuscate the language of majority opinions in the attempt to circumvent unfavorable review from a politically hostile Congress. The results suggest that Supreme Court justices can and do alter the language of their opinions to raise the costs of legislative review and thereby protect their decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-59
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Law and Courts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


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