This paper investigates the possibility of confirmation bias in the United States Supreme Court Judicial Database (USSCJD) issue and judgment codes. We ask whether an opinion issued by a liberal Court is more likely to be assigned a USSCJD issue code that leads to a liberal judgment code, relative to an otherwise similar opinion issued by a conservative Court (and vice versa). Using a sample of cases from the USSCJD that pose comparable issue coding choices, we find that cases are disproportionately assigned issue codes that tend to lead to judgment codes confirmatory of expectations about the ideological character of the judgments typically issued by the deciding Court. We also find considerable evidence that variation in the Court's decision making as a function of congressional preferences has been ``coded out'' of the USSCJD as a result of confirmation bias in the issue codes. Finally, we recode a subset of the USSCJD judgment codes to eliminate confirmation bias. We find that this bias may have led many researchers using the original USSCJD judgment codes to reject the hypothesis of congressional constraint on the Court, despite compelling evidence for the existence of such constraint using the recoded judgment codes.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,379
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #639,071 of 2,519,667 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #271,073 of 2,519,667 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes