Multiple Regime Shifts and the Effect of Changes in Leadership on the United States Supreme Court Dissent Rate

2017-06-06T00:59:22Z (GMT) by Narayan, Paresh Kumar Smyth, Russell
In this paper we use a global optimization technique developed by Bai and Perron (1998) to estimate both the number and location of structural breaks in dissenting opinions on the United States Supreme Court. While it has commonly been believed that there has been one regime shift in dissenting opinions on the United States Supreme Court corresponding to the breakdown in the consensual norm in the 1930s or 1940s, we find that there have been three breaks. We then test to see if changes in the leadership of the Supreme Court have had a statistically significant effect on dissent taking the structural breaks as given. This is a more rigorous test of the influence of judicial leadership on consensus than testing leadership dummy variables against an otherwise fixed intercept as commonly used in previous research. We find that changes in the leadership of the Court have had a statistically significant effect on variations in dissenting opinions.

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