Congressional control of the courts: A theoretical and empirical analysis of expansion of the federal judiciary

John M. De Figueiredo, Emerson H. Tiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Congress has many available tools to influence the federal judiciary. In this article, we consider Congress' ability to balance, or stack, the courts through the creation of federal judgeships. While caseload pressure often produces the need for more judgeships, we demonstrate that political party alignment between Congress and the president often determines the timing of the judicial expansion. The net effect of expanding during political alignment is to speed up changes in the political balance of the judiciary in favor of the current Congress. We also examine the determinants of expansion size and show that both political alignment and caseload pressure influence Congress' decision regarding how many judgeships to add.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-462
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Law and Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

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