The strategy of judging: Evidence from administrative law

Joseph L. Smith, Emerson H. Tiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Recent theories of judicial decision making suggest that federal judges are likely to exploit the structure of law to protect decisions that implement their policy preferences. One perspective asserts that judges, when making decisions that move policy toward their preferred policy outcomes, will be more likely to choose legal grounds - or judicial instruments - that are difficult for other political actors to reverse than when making decisions that move policy away from their preferred outcomes, We test this "strategic instrument" perspective and compare our results with those expected from other models of judicial decision making. Using federal circuit court cases reviewing the decisions of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1981 to 1993, we conduct both bivariate analysis and multinomial logit regression to measure the effect of policy goals on the legal instruments chosen by judges. Our results support the conclusion that strategic considerations systematically influence judicial decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-82
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Legal Studies
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'The strategy of judging: Evidence from administrative law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this