Author ORCID Identifier

Joanna Shepherd 0000-0002-1435-0197

Document Type


Publication Date



Judges, Partisan interests, Election cases, Political party affiliation


In Part I, we introduce our earlier work on election cases and judicial partisanship before setting forth our new approach to studying the influence of law on judicial decisionmaking. We describe the special nature of the election cases in our database that allow more persuasive inferences of judicial partisanship than typically derived in empirical work on judicial behavior. We then explain our new approach for measuring case strength based on counterpartisan decisionmaking by judges. In Part II, we apply our approach to case strength to our dataset and present our results. In a nutshell, partisanship appears to matter as expected and influences decisions, but law, as represented by case strength, matters as much or more. Finally, in Part III, we distinguish our approach to measuring law’s influence on judicial decisionmaking from existing approaches and explore the implications of our findings. We find a partisan asymmetry, this time for cases when a state supreme court justice considers a lower court victory by an opposite-party litigant before an opposite-party judge. Democratic and Republican justices decide these cases very differently, and we close by weighing explanations for this finding.

First Page


Publication Title

Vanderbilt Law Review