Beim, Deborah, Tom S. Clark, and John W. Patty, "Why Do Courts Delay?"
Dispute resolution is a ubiquitous responsibility of government. Few disputes are "one and done": dispute resolution often provokes and is carried out in the shadow of future disputes. In this article, we offer a general theory of dispute resolution in such settings, the dynamic resolution framework, and describe the impact of resolving disputes within a dynamic setting on the incentives of a strategic adjudicator. We apply the theoretical results with the notion of justiciability, and particularly ripeness, in the US federal judiciary. We illustrate key dynamics from the model with a pair of case studies of US Supreme Court doctrine.
Clark, Tom S., Jeffrey K. Staton, Yu Wang, and Eugene Agichtein, "Using Twitter to Study Public Discourse in the Wake of Judicial Decisions: Public Reactions to the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases"
At the intersection of behavioral and institutional studies of policy-making lie a series of questions about how elite choices affect mass public opinion. Scholars have focused particular attention on how judicial decisions—especially US Supreme Court decisions—affect individuals’ support for specific policy positions. these studies yield a series of competing findings about how judicial decisions shape mass policy opinion. Whereas past research uses opinion surveys— especially experimental ones—to assess how individuals’ opinions are shaped, we believe modern techniques for analyzing social media provides analytic leverage and strengths traditional approaches do not offer. We present a framework for employing Twitter data to study mass opinion discourse. We find the Supreme Court’s decisions relating to same-sex marriage in 2013 had significant effects on how the public discussed same-sex marriage and had a polarizing effect on mass opinion. We conclude by connecting these findings and our analyses to larger problems and debates in the area of democratic deliberation and big data analysis.
Clark, Tom S., Benjamin Engst, and Jeffrey K. Staton, "Estimating the Effect of Leisure on Judicial Performance"
Normative concerns often lead designers of political institutions to insulate judges from direct accountability and oversight that creates pressure on their decision making. However, such insulation undermines performance-relevant incentives and can give rise to shirking by judges. To understand the consequences of such shirking for the judicial process, we take advantage of an annual sporting event that creates differential distractions across judges. Using a difference-in-differences design, we show that when a judge’s team is participating in the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament, the judge decides cases more slowly during the time the Tournament takes place. We also show those opinions are cited more negatively by subsequent decisions. These findings suggest a lack of direct accountability for their work product that is often part of political independence has deleterious consequences for the material judicial product. The findings also have implications for possible institutional design solutions.