Racial disparities, judge characteristics, and standards of review in sentencing

Max M Schanzenbach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article considers how judges’ political and racial backgrounds intersect with offender race under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Using variation in judges’ political affiliation and race at the district level and significant changes to Guidelines enforcement, I find that Democratic appointees are more lenient than Republican appointees when the Guidelines are less binding. Despite these differences, however, racial disparities do not vary by judge political affiliation under either strict or relaxed Guidelines. Moreover, black and Hispanic judges do not sentence differently from their white counterparts. I conclude that racial disparities change little by Guideline enforcement or judicial characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-47
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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