Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Statistics, Politics and Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Wagschal, Uwe

2 Issues per year

Online
ISSN
2151-7509
See all formats and pricing
More options …

How to Lose Cases and Influence People

Rachael K. Hinkle / Michael J. NelsonORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7665-7557
Published Online: 2018-03-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2017-0013

Abstract

Dissenting opinions are common in the US Supreme Court even though they take time and effort, risk infuriating colleagues, and have no precedential value. In spite of these drawbacks, dissents can potentially contribute to future legal development. We theorize that dissenting justices who use more memorable language are more successful in achieving such long-term impact. To test this theory, we amass an original dataset of citations to dissenting opinions extracted directly from majority opinion text. We further leverage these texts to build an algorithm that quantifies the distinctiveness of dissenting language within a dynamic context. Our results indicate that dissents using more negative emotion and more distinctive words are cited more in future majority opinions. These results contribute to our understanding of how language can influence long-term policy development.

References

  • Abrams, D. E. (2017) “References to Football in Judicial Opinions and Written Advocacy,” Journal of the Missouri Bar, 73:34–38.Google Scholar

  • Aldisert, R. J. (2009) Opinion Writing. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.Google Scholar

  • Baird, V. and T. Jacobi (2009) “How the Dissent Becomes the Majority: Using Federalism to Transform Coalitions in the US Supreme Court,” Duke Law Journal, 59(2):183–238.Google Scholar

  • Baum, L. (1997) The Puzzle of Judicial Behavior. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar

  • Black, R. C. and J. F. Spriggs (2013) “The Citation and Depreciation of US Supreme Court Precedent.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 10(2):325–358.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Black, R. C., R. J. Owens, J. Wedeking and P. C. Wohlfarth (2016) US Supreme Court Opinions and Their Audiences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Bryan, A. C. and E. M. Ringsmuth (2016) “Jeremiad or Weapon of Words,” Journal of Law and Courts, 3(Spring):159–185.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Carson, H. L. (1894) “Great Dissenting Opinions,” Annual Report of the American Bar Association, 17:273–298.Google Scholar

  • Carter, D. B. and C. S. Signorino (2010) “Back to the Future: Modeling Time Dependence in Binary Data,” Political Analysis, 18(3):271–292.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chemerinsky, E. (2000) “The Jurisprudence of Justice Scalia: A Critical Apprasial,” University of Hawai’i Law Review, 22:384–401.Google Scholar

  • Chemerinsky, E. (2015) The Case Against the Supreme Court. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar

  • Chong, D. and J. N. Druckman (2007) “Framing Theory,” Annual Review of Political Science, 10:103.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Civettini, A. J. W. and D. P. Redlawsk (2009) “Voters, Emotions, and Memory,” Political Psychology, 30(1):125–151.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Clark, T. S. and D. A. Linzer (2015) “Should I Use Fixed or Random Effects?” Political Science Research and Methods, 3(2):399–408.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Coscia, M. (2014) “Average is Boring: How Similarity Kills a Meme’s Success,” Scientific Reports, 4:6744.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., J. Cheng, J. Kleinberg and L. Lee (2012) “You Had Me at Hello: How Phrasing Affects Memorability.” ACL ’12 Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Long Papers, 1:892–901.Google Scholar

  • D’Argembeau, A. and M. Van der Linden (2005) “Influence of Emotion on Memory for Temporal Information,” Emotion, 5(4):503–507.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Epstein, L. and A. D. Martin (2010) “Does Public Opinion Influence the Supreme Court? Possibly Yes (But We’re Not Sure Why),” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, 13:263–281.Google Scholar

  • Epstein, L., J. A. Segal and H. J. Spaeth (2001) “The Norm of Consensus on the US Supreme Court,” American Journal of Political Science, 45(2):362–377.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Epstein, L., W. M. Landes and R. A. Posner (2011) “Why (and When) Judges Dissent: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis,” Journal of Legal Analysis, 3(1):101–137.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Garner, B. A., C. Bea, R. W. Berch, N. M. Gorsuch, H. L. Hartz, N. L. Hecht, B. M. Kavanaugh, A. Kozinski, S. L. Lynch, W. H. Pryor Jr., T. M. Reavley, J. S. Sutton and D. Wood (2016) The Law of Judicial Precedent. London: Thomson Reuters.Google Scholar

  • Hand, L. (1958) The Bill of Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hansford, T. G. and J. F. Spriggs II (2006) The Politics of Precedent on the US Supreme Court. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hinkle, R. K. (2015) “Legal Constraint in the US Courts of Appeals,” Journal of Politics, 77:721–735.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kahn, J. H., R. M. Tobin, A. E. Massey and J. A. Anderson (2007) “Measuring Emotional Expression with the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count,” The American Journal of Psychology, 120(2):263–286.Google Scholar

  • Kern, R. P., T. M. Libkuman, H. Otani and K. Holmes (2005) “Emotional Stimuli, Divided Attention, and Memory,” Emotion, 5(4):408–417.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Maltzman, F., J. F. Spriggs II and P. J. Wahlbeck (2000) Crafting Law on the Supreme Court: The Collegial Game. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Martin, A. D. and K. M. Quinn (2002) “Dynamic Ideal Point Estimation Via Markov Chain Monte Carlo for the US Supreme Court, 1953–1999,” Political Analysis, 10(2):134–153.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McGaugh, J. L. (2003) Memory and Emotion: The Making of Lasting Memories. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar

  • Note (2011) “From Consensus to Collegiality: The Origins of the ‘Respectful’ Dissent,” Harvard Law Review, 124:1305–1326.Google Scholar

  • Pennebaker, J. W., R. J. Booth and M. E. Francis (2007) “Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count: LIWC [Computer software].” Austin, TX: liwc.net.Google Scholar

  • Peterson, S. A. (1981) “Dissent in American Courts,” Journal of Politics, 43(2):412–434.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pound, R. (1953) “Cacoethes Dissentiendi: The Heated Judicial Dissent,” American Bar Association Journal, 39(9):794–797.Google Scholar

  • Prior, M. (2008) “The Incumbent in the Living Room: The Rise of Television and the Incumbency Advantage in US House Elections,” Journal of Politics, 68(3):657–673.Google Scholar

  • Senior, J. (2013) “In Conversation: Antonin Scalia,” New York. Available at http://nymag.com/news/features/antonin-scalia-2013-10. Accessed 4 Oct. 2016.

  • Vloet, K. (2015) “Justice Ginsburg: ‘I Like to Think Most of My Dissents Will Be the Law Someday’.” 6 Feb. Available at https://www.law.umich.edu/newsandinfo/features/Pages/ginsburglecture020615.aspx. Accessed 20 Dec. 2016.

  • Wahlbeck, P. J. and J. F. Spriggs II (1999) “The Politics of Dissents and Concurrences on the US Supreme Court,” American Politics Research, 27(4):488.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wald, P. M. (1995) “The Rhetoric of Results and the Results of Rhetoric: Judiical Writings,” University of Chicago Law Review, 62(4):1371–1419.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-03-10

Published in Print: 2017-12-20


Citation Information: Statistics, Politics and Policy, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 195–221, ISSN (Online) 2151-7509, ISSN (Print) 2194-6299, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2017-0013.

Export Citation

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in