Consider the Source (and the Message): Supreme Court Justices and Strategic Audits of Lower Court Decisions

Ryan C. Black and Ryan J. Owens

Published 2012, Political Research Quarterly 65(2): 385-395 (June).


Given scarce resources, Supreme Court justices hear cases that maximize their auditing capacities. The authors argue that justices rely on the identity of lower court judges and the ideological disposition of lower court decisions to decide which cases to review. The authors find justices are most likely to audit disagreeable lower court decisions rendered by ideologically disagreeable panel judges and are least likely to review agreeable lower court decisions rendered by ideologically agreeable panel judges. Furthermore, when faced with the same ideologically disagreeable lower court decision, justices are less likely to review decisions made by ideological allies than those by ideological foes.

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