Predicting drift on politically insulated institutions: A study of ideological drift on the United States Supreme Court

Ryan J. Owens, Justin Wedeking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Elected officials have difficulty controlling politically insulated institutions, leaving the appointment process as perhaps their most effective means of influence. Yet, history shows that actors on these institutionsespecially the Supreme Courtoften behave unpredictably. Our goal is to determine whether variation in two components of cognitive style, prior to a justices nomination to the Court, predicts ideological drift once on the Court. Using linguistic software created by cognitive psychologists, we examined over 1000 speeches, articles, and separate opinions written by Supreme Court justices before they were nominated to the Court. Our results show that justices whose prenomination words revealed cognitive inconsistency drift more than those with stable world views.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-500
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume74
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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