The Influence of Partisanship, Ideology, and the Law on Redistricting Decisions in the Federal Courts

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Abstract

Redistricting cases offer a unique opportunity to test the effects of partisan favoritism in judging and to investigate when partisanship might influence decision making distinctly from ideology. How partisan are federal judges? In an analysis of federal district court cases from 1981 to 2007, this study finds that federal judges are neither neutral arbiters nor crass partisans. Instead, judging in redistricting cases can best be described in terms of constrained partisanship. When redistricting law is clear, judges eschew decision making that furthers their party's interests. However, where legal precedent is ambiguous, partisan favoritism exacts a strong influence on judicial behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-813
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Volume65
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Redistricting
  • federal district courts
  • judicial behavior
  • judicial decision making
  • partisan favoritism

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