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Free Speech in Public Employment: Has the Supreme Court Clarified Matters? An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Lane v Franks

  • John P. Connolly ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Lewis M. Wasserman
From the journal Review of Law & Economics


We employ a counterfactual treatment effect analysis to evaluate whether U.S. Courts of Appeals judges have changed their propensity to vote against plaintiffs in public employment free speech disputes following the Supreme Court’s 2015 Lane v Franks decision. In order to ensure a like-for-like comparison of votes before and after the Lane decision we employ a variant of the “straddle” approach, which entails identifying cases caught in the crosshairs of the upper court’s ruling and then comparing the votes with those of cases already decided. Our results underscore the importance of paying close attention to selection effects when evaluating the impact of legal changes on judicial behavior.


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Published Online: 2019-12-07

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