Applying My Measure of Judicial Activism
posted by Corey Yung
In my previous post, I finally got around to explaining my measure of judicial activism. In this post, I will give some of the results based upon my preliminary data.
One of the most remarkable things I have found so far is that, although each of the circuits has a relatively consistent reversal rate, the activism scores vary by significant margins. The chart below shows the reversal rates and activism differentials for each of the five circuits that I have examined:
The activism scores are negative numbers with the higher numbers indicating a higher degree of activism. Thus, the 3rd Circuit is the most activist and the 4th Circuit is, by far, the least activist.
Of course, one thing that is always interesting to look at is which President’s appointees are the most activist. Here are the results I have so far:
This chart should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Although in some senses, I already have a large amount of data, in others I have very limited sample sizes. When I start analyzing data that uses the judge as a unit of measure, I only have 52 judges with adequate sample sizes. So, there are few representatives for some presidents. That is also why I am not including any regression analysis in these posts. I include this chart simply to show one of variables that I will explore in regards to activism. Other examples of variables I will examine include background experience (district court, private practice, prosecutor, law professor, etc.), conditions at the time of the appointment (election year, unified government, etc.), and other assorted factors (law school attended, activism in particular areas of law, ABA ratings, etc.).
As this project is still ongoing, I welcome any comments and/or suggestions. In my next, and probably last, post, I will give some information about some high profile judges including Judge Sotomayor.
Update: Based upon popular demand, I have changed the second graph to a bar chart.